TikTok Faces Lawsuit from Iowa for Setting App Store Age Rating Too Low

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TikTok Faces Lawsuit from Iowa for Setting App Store Age Rating Too Low

Iowa’s Attorney General, Brenna Bird, is taking legal action against TikTok, alleging the platform deliberately set its App Store age rating too low. The lawsuit contends TikTok is misleading parents about the accessibility of inappropriate content, including sexual material, drugs, and profanity. In a statement, Attorney General Bird emphasized, ‘TikTok has sneaked past parental blocks by misrepresenting the severity of its content.’ Iowa seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction, civil penalties, and more, as it challenges TikTok’s age rating practices.

The lawsuit, filed by Attorney General Bird, claims that TikTok is not being honest with parents about what kind of content their kids can access on the app. According to the lawsuit, TikTok is making things like sexual content, drugs, alcohol, and profanity easily available to young users while keeping a not-so-accurate “12+” age rating.

What does a “12+” age rating mean? It’s supposed to indicate that the app has only a little bit of mild stuff – like mild sexual content, profanity, and references to alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. But Iowa argues that TikTok’s content goes beyond this description and should actually have a “17+” label.

Attorney General Bird isn’t pulling any punches, stating, “TikTok has sneaked past parental blocks by misrepresenting the severity of its content.” Iowa’s investigation found that even 13-year-olds could easily find recipes for alcoholic drinks, advice on using marijuana, music with explicit lyrics, and even videos promoting harmful behaviors like eating disorders and self-harm.

TikTok Faces Lawsuit from Iowa for Setting App Store Age Rating Too Low
Source: Getty Images

The lawsuit is not just about pointing fingers. Iowa is taking serious legal action, claiming that TikTok is violating the Iowa Consumer Fraud Act. The goal? To stop TikTok from fooling parents and users about the kind of content available on the app. They also want TikTok to correct its statements and are seeking financial penalties for the harm caused to people in Iowa.

TikTok, in response, says they are aware of the challenges and are working on them. They emphasize their safety measures, including parental controls and time limits for users under 18. The platform sees these challenges not as specific to TikTok but as part of wider industry issues.

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This isn’t the first time TikTok has found itself in legal trouble. In 2022, Indiana accused TikTok of showing inappropriate content to minors, a case that was later dismissed. Other lawsuits from states like Utah, claiming TikTok makes kids addicted to the app, are still ongoing.

Iowa’s move is part of a bigger trend where states are keeping a close eye on how social media apps like TikTok might expose minors to inappropriate content. The outcome of this legal battle could set a precedent for how states regulate these platforms.

As this legal drama plays out, TikTok faces a crucial moment – addressing allegations that could impact not just its standing in Iowa but also how social media apps are perceived when it comes to the safety of younger users.

TikTok might need to make some serious changes to ensure it’s not just dancing to the beat but also addressing concerns about content accessibility and the safety of its young user base. The stakes are high, and the outcome could resonate far beyond the borders of Iowa, affecting how social media is used and regulated across the country.

TikTok Faces Lawsuit from Iowa for Setting App Store Age Rating Too Low

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