Nebraska sues TikTok for 'fueling a youth mental health crisis'

Attorney General Mike Hilgers assured that, after an investigation carried out by the state, they had evidence that the social network exposes minors to "inappropriate content."

Nebraska sued TikTok this Wednesday for "fueling a youth mental health crisis." The 82-page brief, filed in Lancaster County District Court, claimed that the company deceived both teenage users and their parents into believing that the social network had implemented various security measures to protect young people from inappropriate content.

Lawsuit from the state of Nebra... by rosana.rabago

The conclusion was obtained after two years of research on the platform. This, Attorney General Mike Hilgers said in a statement, allowed them to affirm that TikTok shows minors "inappropriate content" ranging from videos that promote body image problems to other more serious topics such as suicide:

TikTok tells parents its platform is safe for kids, but our investigation reveals that nothing could be further from the truth. Within minutes of signing up, the TikTok algorithm has shown kids inappropriate content, ranging from videos that encourage suicidal ideation and fuel depression, drive body image issues, and encourage eating disorders to those that encourage drug use and sexual content wildly inappropriate for young kids. Parents deserve to be fully and truthfully informed so they can help their kids make positive, healthy choices. Our office will not stand by while social media platforms mislead parents while dosing digital poison to our children.

Hilgers says TikTok leads to 'social isolation'

Not only that, the social network is "exploiting children and teens." They do so, according to Hilgers, by exposing "young users to age-inappropiate content." But not only that, according to the attorney general, functions such as "infinite scroll" lead to "social isolation," all without the social network taking responsibility for its actions:

TikTok is fueling a youth mental health crisis in Nebraska, exploiting children and teens. Not only does social media use interfere with sleep, school, and family activities, but it also leads to social isolation, fosters unrealistic social comparison, and exposes young users to age-inappropriate content. TikTok has shown no regard for the wreckage its exploitative algorithm is leaving behind. We will hold them accountable for the costs and damage they are inflicting on Nebraska families and children.

For its part, TikTok responded to the lawsuit. It did so through a statement, to which The Hill obtained access, in which a spokesperson for the company assured that the platform "has industry-leading safeguards to support teens' well-being":

TikTok has industry-leading safeguards to support teens’ well-being, including age-restricted features, parental controls, an automatic 60-minute time limit for people under 18, and more. We will continue working to address these industry-wide challenges.