A coalition of 46 attorneys general, including Colorado’s Phil Weiser, is asking a Tennessee state court to order the social media giant TikTok to turn over its internal communications.
The effort is part of a nationwide investigation into TikTok and whether it has violated consumer protection laws by engaging in “deceptive, unfair, and unconscionable conduct that harmed the mental health of TikTok users, particularly children and teens.”
According to an amicus brief Weiser submitted to Tennessee’s 20th Judicial District on Monday, TikTok has not complied with the attorneys general’s requests for company documents. The state officials say that information falls within their investigative authority. A hearing on the matter is set for March 24.
At a press conference Monday, Weiser said the documents will provide key information for the nationwide investigation, which launched more than a year ago. Weiser’s participation in the investigation is his latest confrontation with major social media companies.
“We heard testimony from a whistleblower about Instagram saying that if you're a young girl and you're looking at how might I lose weight, you're gonna get algorithms pushing self-harm videos, or even suicide,” Weiser said Monday. “We are concerned.”
Enforcing accountability for social media companies has been a recurring topic during Weiser's tenure. In 2021, Weiser called on Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, to clarify how it intends to protect users of a proposed “kids-only” version of Instagram. Later that year, he joined a multistate investigation into practices by Meta that allegedly harmed children.
Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet has separately called on the heads of Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their respective app stores, citing security concerns over its ties to the Chinese Communist Party. TikTok is estimated to have more than 100 million users in the United States alone, according to Bennet.
Several state governments, including Louisiana and Wisconsin, have banned the app from government devices. Citing similar security concerns, Colorado Republican Rep. Ken Buck recently co-sponsored a bill that prohibits TikTok from all federal electronics. President Biden signed the bill into law last December.
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