ARKANSAS SUES TIKTOK, META OVER PRIVACY, CHILD SAFETY CLAIMS
The state of Arkansas filed two lawsuits against social media giants TikTok and Meta on Wednesday, accusing the companies of deceptive trade practices and mishandling children’s personal information.
In one lawsuit, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge accused TikTok of violating the state’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act by failing to adequately protect children’s personal information and by failing to disclose to users that their data could be collected and shared with third parties.
Rutledge said TikTok also violated the state’s Child Protection Reporting Act by failing to report unlawful sexual conduct on its platform.
“TikTok has repeatedly failed to take adequate measures to protect children’s privacy, including failing to properly obtain parental consent before collecting personal data and allowing underage children to use the app,” Rutledge said in a statement.
In the other lawsuit, Rutledge accused Meta of violating the state’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act by failing to disclose that it was collecting children’s data, including the content of their messages, without parental consent.
Rutledge also accused Meta of failing to report unlawful conduct on its platform, including child sexual exploitation.
“Meta has repeatedly fallen short of its obligations to protect children, and its practices are far from transparent,” Rutledge said in a statement.
TikTok and Meta did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the lawsuits.
The complaints come amid growing scrutiny of social media companies for allowing harmful content to spread on their platforms and for not doing enough to protect children from online predators.
Last month, a whistleblower told a Senate panel that Facebook had prioritized profits over user safety, including by allowing hate speech and misinformation to proliferate on its platform.
Facebook, which has since changed its name to Meta, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the whistleblower’s testimony.
In recent years, TikTok has faced criticism for promoting harmful content, including videos promoting eating disorders and self-harm.
The app has also faced accusations of censorship and bias, including allegations that it suppressed videos by users who were overweight or disabled.
In response to the criticism, TikTok has introduced new measures to protect users, including age verification requirements and restrictions on certain types of content.
Meta, meanwhile, has faced criticism for allowing false and misleading information to spread on its platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
The company has also been accused of facilitating the spread of hate speech and disinformation, including during the 2016 US presidential election.
Meta has said it is taking steps to address these issues, including by implementing new policies and investing in technology to detect and remove harmful content.