State attorney generals across the U.S. have officially announced a nationwide investigation into the potential harmful effects that TikTok has on its young users.
According to the Associated Press, attorney generals from California, Florida, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Vermont are leading the investigation.
“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 California Attorney General Rob Bonta in a news release. “We know this takes a devastating toll on children’s mental health and well-being.”
It’s no secret that TikTok has exploded over the last few years. It can be hard to keep up with the latest trends coming out, which means it can be difficult to monitor the content especially impressionable users are taking in. The investigation aims to get “much-needed answers” about what exactly young users are engaging with.
This isn’t the first time federal regulators have tried to crack open social media algorithms. Last year, several state attorneys also launched an investigation into the negative effects Instagram had on younger people.
“For too long, Meta has ignored the havoc that Instagram is wreaking on the mental health and well-being of our children and teens,” Bonta said last year. “Enough is enough. We’ve undertaken this nationwide investigation to get answers about Meta’s efforts to promote the use of this social media platform to young Californians — and to determine if, in doing so, Meta violated the law.”
While users have the option to regulate the content they see based on who they follow and interact with, federal agencies are calling on these platforms to take some responsibility for censoring content for its younger users. For instance, last year’s Milk Crate challenge — which was eventually banned by TikTok — resulted in some serious injuries in participants, and the Steal From Your School challenge encouraged students to commit theft.
Whether we like it or not, all social media has an effect on us. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and now TikTok have positive and negative sides. Whether the content can be properly regulated is the question at hand for state and federal regulators.