Arkansas sues Meta and TikTok for "deceiving young users"

Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it was time for these large companies to pay for "pushing addictive platforms on our kids."

Arkansas has filed three lawsuits accusing Meta and TikTok of "deceiving young users." State officials, backed by Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, filed these actions Tuesday, asserting that these platforms violate the Deceptive Trade Practices Act by employing deceptive strategies that put both minors and the security of state residents' data at risk.

Two of the lawsuits are filed against TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance. The Chinese company continues to pile up problems following its CEO's testimony before the House of Representatives and now must face two state lawsuits. In the first, Arkansas accuses the social network of being a "Trojan horse."

The TikTok app is a Chinese 'Trojan Horse' unleashed on unsuspecting American consumers who have been misled by the company’s false, unconscionable, and deceptive representations about the content on its platform.

These practices mainly affect younger people. According to the lawsuit, "tens of millions of minors use TikTok in the United States" without realizing the dangers they are being exposed to. This is the warning from the Arkansas government:

In order to lure these children onto its platform or convince parents that it is appropriate for their children to download, TikTok makes a variety of misleading representations and omissions to claim a 12+ rating on the Apple App Store and a “T” for “Teen” rating in the Google Play Store and the Microsoft Store. Once on the platform, many children are exposed to non-stop offerings of mature content that TikTok’s algorithm force-feeds to them.

TikTok data security under the spotlight again

The second lawsuit accuses the Beijing-based company of the same practices for which it has faced hundreds of lawsuits: compromising the security of user data:

TikTok says its platform is all about "making space for joy". But the more TikTok videos consumers view, and the more content that they share, the more highly sensitive data TikTok learns about them -their interests, their locations, the types of phones they have, the apps on their phones, who their contacts are, the content they create, their facial features, their voice prints, and even "where [their] eyes are looking on [their] phone[s]."

In addition, the lawsuit also prompted the Arkansas Attorney General's Office to again accuse TikTok and especially its parent company, ByteDance, of sharing the data it collects from Americans with the Chinese Communist Party:

TikTok is deceiving the public regarding the harmful content it is putting in the hands of our kids, and it is deceiving the public about its ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

Meta also sued by Arkansas

Meta is also under fire. The parent company of Facebook and Instagram will face a separate lawsuit, the third filed by Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin. In this case, the company was accused of exacerbating the mental health crisis among American teenagers. As Griffin said in the suit, Meta creates algorithms for a specific purpose:

They have been deliberately designed to attract and addict youth by amplifying harmuful material, dosing users with dopamine hits, and thereby driving youth and advertising revenue.

The document further states that the company "designs, markets, promotes and operates social media platforms for which it has especially cultivated a young audience," referring mainly to Instagram and Facebook.

These are just some of the reasons why Sarah Huckabee Sanders, per a statement, feels it is necessary to file a lawsuit against Meta, TikTok and ByteDance. This move will serve to demonstrate, as she says, that her "administration will not tolerate that failed status quo."

We have to hold Big Tech companies accountable for pushing addictive platforms on our kids and exposing them to a world of inappropriate, damaging content. Arkansas is leading the charge on filing three lawsuits against TikTok and Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram. These actions are a long time coming. We have watched over the past decade as one social media company after another has exploited our kids for profit and escaped government oversight. My administration will not tolerate that failed status quo.