TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Ashley Moody and 14 other state attorneys general called on tech giants Apple and Google to immediately up their age ratings for the popular social media platform, TikTok, by the end of the year.
Moody said the change would help parents protect their children from being exposed to “harmful content” online.
“While our investigation into TikTok continues, it is important that action is taken now to better protect children from harmful content they might encounter on this China-owned social media platform,” Moody said.
The attorney general added that the platform is tailored for adults and “is not appropriate for users under the age of 17.”
A release from the Office of the Attorney General said the states reserve the right to take “appropriate legal action” against the companies if steps to increase the age rating are not followed.
“The current ratings of ‘T’ for ‘Teen’ in the Google Play App store and ‘12+’ in Apple’s App store, inadequately characterize the objectionable content children are exposed to on TikTok,” the release said. “The TikTok app contains frequent and extreme alcohol, tobacco and drug use or references, sexual content, profanity and mature/suggestive themes.”
Moody said TikTok users are free to search for thousands of hashtags related to instructional videos about drug use, descriptions of drinking games, recipes for cannabis edibles, demonstrations of vaping tricks, pole dancing routines, and more.
The attorney general said TikTok not only allows users to find the “harmful content,” but it also fills users’ ‘For You’ page with “dangerous recommended content” from strangers.
The letter states: “Parents depend on the accuracy of age ratings. When parents are deceived into letting their kids download TikTok, there are real consequences. Exposure to drug, alcohol and tobacco content on social media makes kids more likely to use or experiment with those illicit substances in real life. And exposure to sexual content on TikTok can lead to pornography addiction and even the sexual exploitation of kids by online predators.”
The following attorneys general joined Moody in signing the letters: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.