US Attorney General Rob Bonta announced on Wednesday that TikTok is under investigation by the US government for allegedly promoting the app to youth while knowing that the use of the app could be harmful to the same youth.

According to Techweez, the app is under investigation by several other US Attorneys who are trying to determine whether the app violated state consumer protection laws. The coalition leading the probe includes AGs from California, Minnesota, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee and Vermont.

“Our children are growing up in the age of social media – and many feel like they need to measure up to the filtered versions of reality that they see on their screens,” said Bonta.

“We know this takes a devastating toll on children’s mental health and well-being. But we don’t know what social media companies knew about these harms and when. Our nationwide investigation will allow us to get much-needed answers and determine if TikTok is violating the law in promoting its platform to young Californians,” Bonta added.

The investigation will search for any harmful effects that using TikTok can promote in young users and it will also try to find if TikTok knew about any effects that young users are being exposed to. The investigation focuses, among other things, on the techniques utilised by TikTok to boost young user engagement, including strategies or efforts to increase the duration of time spent on the platform and frequency of engagement with the platform, Bonta said.

US President Joe Biden, called for a ban on targeted advertising to children on social media, according to an article by Techweez.

“As children and teens already grapple with issues of anxiety, social pressure, and depression, we cannot allow social media to further harm their physical health and mental well-being,”  Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said.

On the other hand, TikTok said it looks forward to providing teens with all the information they need to protect their privacy on the app.

By Zintle Nkohla 

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