Iowa Bird files lawsuit against TikTok for deception involving child-unfriendly content

Iowa AG sues Tiktok for displaying illicit content on its app despite a claim of parental controls.

TikTok mobile phone

Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird, at a December campaign rally, spoke to a lawsuit she filed against the social media giant TikTok. According to the lawmaker, despite having a parental control feature, children are still exposed to highly inappropriate content even when this icon is enabled. The illicit content ranges from profanity, sexual content, and eating disorders to videos referencing drug and alcohol abuse.

The lawsuit emphasises that the app’s Community Guidelines misrepresents the actual performance of the app and pinpoints the company’s lapse in enforcing its policies, which happens to be in circumvention of the state’s Consumer Fraud Act. She called on the court to issue a strict financial fine against TikTok for damages and implement guardrails to prevent similar deceptive practices. 

Why does it matter?

Holding TikTok and other online platforms accountable for the content on their platforms is an issue of paramount importance, given their increased use as enablers for illicit activities. This is particularly true when it comes to cases such as the sexualisation of children, which, according to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), has been skyrocketing in recent years.  

Already, the New Mexico Attorney General has filed a lawsuit claiming that Meta keeps failing to prevent the exploitation of minors on its platforms, following The Guardian’s April investigation highlighting the company’s struggle in curbing child trafficking.