Michigan AG joins nationwide investigation into TikTok’s impact on mental health of young people

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click to enlarge The app TikTok is being investigated by - Shutterstock
The app TikTok is being investigated by

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel's office announced it joined a nationwide investigation into the TikTok app "for providing and promoting its social media platform to children and young adults even though social media use is associated with physical and mental health harms to young people," according to a statement sent Thursday.

"Recent reports on social media’s impact on the mental and physical health of young people raise serious questions among attorneys general across the nation," Nessel said in a statement." Ultimately, we are concerned about protecting our youth. I am proud to join my colleagues in this investigation."

She added, "Given this is an ongoing investigation, I will not be discussing any details beyond this announcement."

According to a press release, the investigation is being led by Attorneys General from California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Vermont, with support from other AGs. The investigation is examining whether the company violated state consumer protection laws that put the public at risk.

It aims to "look into the harms such usage causes to young users and what TikTok knew about those harms," according to the release, and "focuses, among other things, on the techniques utilized by TikTok to boost young user engagement, including increasing the duration of time spent on the platform and frequency of engagement with the platform."

The popular TikTok app is owned by Chinese-based company ByteDance Ltd.

In May, 2021, Nessel joined more than 40 Attorneys General calling on U.S.-based Facebook to abandon its plans for an Instagram-like app for children. In November, they announced an investigation into Meta, the new name for Facebook's parent company, over its plans to gear its products toward children.

According to explosive documents leaked by a Facebook whistleblower to the Wall Street Journal last year, Facebook's own research showed it knew its platforms had significant negative mental health effects, especially for teen girls.

It's not the first time Michigan's Democratic state leadership has come out against addictive products used by children. In 2019, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that she planned on banning flavored nicotine vaping products due to an increase in teen use, making Michigan the first state to do so. However, after the vaping industry pushed back, Michigan abandoned the plan in favor of a new approach that would raise the age requirement for buying flavored nicotine products from 18 to 21 and impose an 18% tax on the products.

Teen vaping in the U.S. plummeted 43% over the last year, according to the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey, though it cautioned that the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic could have played a role.

The study found that 11.3% of high school students and 2.8% of middle schoolers reported using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, compared to 19.6% of high school students and 4.7% of middle schoolers in 2020.

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About The Author

Lee DeVito

Leyland "Lee" DeVito grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, where he read Metro Times religiously due to teenaged-induced boredom. He became a contributing writer for Metro Times in 2009, and Editor in Chief in 2016. In addition to writing, he also supplies occasional illustrations. His writing has been published...
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