The state of Arkansas is suing Meta and TikTok, accusing the social media platforms of misleading consumers about the safety of children on its “addictive” platforms and deceiving users about the protection of their private data.
On Tuesday, Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin filed one lawsuit against Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, and two separate cases against TikTok and its Chinese parent company ByteDance — alleging all three companies have violated the state’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
According to a press release, the lawsuit against Meta claims the company “knowingly” designed its social media apps to “create addiction” for its younger users.
The case alleges that Meta targets youth with algorithms that are “deliberately engineered to exploit the fragility of young users’ brains” to maximize engagement and release “continuous dopamine hits.”
Meanwhile, the first lawsuit against TikTok and ByteDance contends that the companies have created an algorithm that promotes explicit content to minors. The state of Arkansas alleges that the algorithm can “influence their behavior, causing significant harm.”
The second lawsuit against TikTok and ByteDance alleges that the companies have made “false, deceptive, and misleading” claims that American user data can not be accessed by the Chinese government.
Last week, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew told Congress that China “haven’t asked” for access to U.S. data.
“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 Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders says in a press conference.
“These social media companies have claimed for years that their platforms are beneficial, not addictive, and private. That’s the definition of false, deceptive, and unconscionable.”
In a statement to the AP, Meta’s head of safety Antigone Davis says: “These are complex issues, but we will continue working with parents, experts, and regulators such as the state attorneys general to develop new tools, features, and policies that meet the needs of teens and their families.”
Arkansas joins several other states that have filed lawsuits against social media companies in recent months.
In February, Texas sued Meta for its use of facial recognition, alleging Facebook collected the biometric data of millions of Texans without consent. The state is reportedly seeking damages that could exceed $500 billion.
TikTok and ByteDance are also being sued by Indiana for allegedly deceiving users about the Chinese government’s ability to access their data and failing to protect children from mature content.
Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.