Eight U.S. States Investigate TikTok’s Effect on Youth Health

Eight U.S. states announced Wednesday that they have launched a nationwide bipartisan investigation into short video sharing app TikTok, which is owned by Chinese technology giant ByteDance. The probe aims to determine whether TikTok causes harm to young people’s physical or mental health.

The survey, conducted by states including California and Massachusetts, also aims to find out how much TikTok knows about its role in perpetuating such harm. “One of the focuses of the survey is the methods and technologies used by TikTok to improve the participation of young users, including increasing the time spent on the platform and the frequency of using the platform,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office said in a statement.

This is an extension of a team of the eight state attorney generals investigating a similar issue related to Instagram, which is owned by Meta Platforms Inc., formerly known as Facebook, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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A spokesperson of TikTok said that the company is “focused on the safety of younger users” and limits certain functions according to users’ age. In addition, the company says it looks forward to “providing information on the many safety and privacy protections” it has for teens.

The company has taken many measures to protect the health of minors. Among them, on February 9 this year, a TikTok spokesman said that it was conducting a small-scale test to study the method of grading and restricting content according to age, so as to prevent young users from seeing adult content.