Attorney General Hilgers Files Landmark Lawsuit against TikTok in Nebraska State Court

Attorney General Hilgers Files Landmark Lawsuit against TikTok in Nebraska State Court
MGN Online/ TikTok.
May 22nd, 2024 | Suzanne Gage - Director of Communications

Lincoln, NE – Today, Attorney General Mike Hilgers filed a landmark lawsuit against TikTok in Nebraska State Court, alleging violations of Nebraska’s consumer protection laws. 

The lawsuit claims TikTok engaged in deceptive and unfair trade practices by intentionally designing and operating a platform that is addictive and harmful to teens and children while holding itself out as “family-friendly” and “safe” for young users. The lawsuit also demonstrates how, contrary to TikTok’s repeated public representations, TikTok’s features fail to protect kids and regularly expose underage users to age-inappropriate and otherwise harmful content. 

“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,” said Attorney General Hilgers. “Our office will not stand by while social media platforms mislead parents while dosing digital poison to our children.”

The Attorney General’s lawsuit aims to hold TikTok accountable for its deception, which has fueled a youth mental health crisis in Nebraska. In its advertising, app store ratings, dealings with PTAs, and other public statements, TikTok has held itself out as a leader and advocate for youth and online safety. However, TikTok’s own internal documents and the experience of thousands of users across Nebraska tell a strikingly different story. TikTok knows that its platform is addictive, that compulsive use is rampant, and that its purported safety features, such as age verification and parental controls, are grossly ineffective.

“TikTok is fueling a youth mental health crisis in Nebraska, exploiting children and teens,” explains Attorney General Mike Hilgers. “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.”

The lawsuit follows a State investigation into TikTok’s business practices, which the lawsuit claims TikTok intentionally delayed, evaded, and failed to adequately comply with. This lawsuit is the latest move in Attorney General Hilgers’ ongoing campaign to protect Nebraska’s youth, especially when it comes to their mental health and well-being. Earlier this year, Attorney General Hilgers joined a national coalition of state attorneys general in suing Meta for broadly similar conduct.

Our office is accepting submissions related to underage users on TikTok. If your child has been affected or you have other relevant information, please contact the Consumer Affairs Response Team at 402-471-2682.


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