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TikTok is getting sued by Iowa Attorney General for incorrect age rating on app stores

The TikTok app on a phone

TikTok is facing challenges from Iowa’s Attorney General Brenna Bird, who claims the social media application has a misleading age label on app stores.

In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday, the Iowa Attorney General argued that TikTok exposes children and young teens to explicit content revolving around suggestive themes, profanity, drugs, alcohol, etc.

The prosecutor added that TikTok misleads parents as she stated:

"TikTok has kept parents in the dark. It’s time we shine a light on TikTok for exposing young children to graphic materials such as sexual content, self-harm, illegal drug use, and worse. TikTok has sneaked past parental blocks by misrepresenting the severity of its content.”

TikTok labels itself as an app suitable for audiences over 12 years old, however, Bird suggested that the content shared on the platform should accessed by users who are above 17. Hence, the filing argues that TikTok's correct age rating should be "17+"

Apps that have a “12+” age rating are normally classified as containing inappropriate content to an “ “infrequent/mild” degree but Bird stated that on TikTok, such content is “easily accessible.”

The 61-page court filing mentions that the social media app is incorrectly rated on Apple’s App Store, Google Play Store, and even Microsoft Store where it has the “T” for teens rating.

An investigation of the platform analyzed that recipes for alcohol, topics of suicide and self-harm, music with inappropriate lyrics, and encouragement for using marijuana, are suggested by TikTok’s algorithm to users who are as young as 13 years.

The Attorney General also pointed out that TikTok’s Restricted Mode falls short in preventing such content from being available to younger audiences.

The prosecutor is suing TikTok under Iowa’s Consumer Fraud Act and is urging the platform to stop presenting it as an application suitable for younger audiences. Following the lawsuit, TikTok would also be required to pay disgorgement, civil penalties, and other legal charges.

About the content on TikTok, the filing also states:

“Even though these videos and many others like them are readily available on the TikTok app, Defendants tell consumers in the App Store that “mature/suggestive themes” are “infrequent/mild” on the platform. That is deception, a false promise, and a misrepresentation."

To defend the company’s stance, TikTok spokesperson Alex Haurek mentioned to the Verge that the company is trying to deal with the issue at hand by adding:

“TikTok has industry-leading safeguards in place for young people, including parental controls and time limits for those under 18. We are committed to tackling industry-wide challenges and will continue to prioritize community safety.”

TikTok has had multiple legal issues, especially, in the US in the past. Apart from issues regarding the media on the platform itself, there are concerns that TikTok allegedly collects user data to share it with the Chinese government.

Via: The Verge

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