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Missouri AG joins national probe into whether TikTok harms children

By: - March 2, 2022 3:28 pm

Eric Schmitt answers questions during a press conference after filing to run in the Missouri Senate primaries on Feb. 22, 2022 in Jefferson City (Madeline Carter/Missouri Independent).

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced Wednesday that his office has joined a nationwide investigation into whether the social media platform TikTok is designing and promoting its platform in a way that harms the physical and mental health of children.

A bipartisan group of attorneys general are looking into whether the social media company violated state consumer protection laws.

“In the course of our investigation, we will look into the operating practices employed by TikTok, particularly how the platform boosts young user engagement,” Schmitt said in a prepared statement.

Schmitt said the investigation will look into the harms TikTok use might cause young users and what the company knew about those harms. He noted that last year he joined a coalition of 44 attorneys general demanding Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg abandon plans to create an Instagram for kids.

The investigation of TikTok is the latest example of increasing scrutiny on social media companies and how their products impact children. The issue was highlighted during President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, when he said it was time to ban targeted advertising to children and demand tech companies stop collecting their personal data.

“We must hold social media platforms accountable,” Biden said, “for the national experiment they’re conducting on our children for profit.”

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Jason Hancock
Jason Hancock

Jason Hancock has spent two decades covering politics and policy for news organizations across the Midwest, with most of that time focused on the Missouri statehouse as a reporter for The Kansas City Star. A three-time National Headliner Award winner, he helped launch The Missouri Independent in October 2020.