Montana’s attorney general has announced an investigation into Communist Chinese-linked social media app TikTok, including an examination of TikTok’s censorship.
Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen announced an investigation on Feb. 28, 2022 into popular social media app TikTok. TikTok’s parent company ByteDance is partly owned and controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The Attorney General will investigate TikTok for “possible violations of the Montana Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act,” according to Knudsen’s press release. Knudsen is demanding answers from TikTok surrounding safety features, content, algorithms, if human trafficking border cartels utilize TikTok and how the social media platform and its policies affect the health and mental well-being of minors. Knudsen’s investigation will also examine TikTok’s data sharing with its “Chinese corporate family,” third party data tracking and political censorship.
The press release said Knudsen’s “civil investigative demand includes substantial evidence of dozens of past and current potential violations of Montana law including TikTok intentionally distributing a dangerous product without adequate warning and by publicly misrepresenting the dangers its product poses to Montana consumers.”
TikTok has grown exponentially, becoming the number one app in the entire world, according to the press release. Some countries, including India, have banned TikTok and China limits the time young people spend on the platform daily, but U.S. teens and pre-teens reportedly spend 105 minutes daily on average on TikTok. While children as young as 13 years can create a profile on TikTok, the app’s algorithms do not differentiate for age, according to Knudsen’s press release.
Knudsen explained the reasons for the investigation. “This is a critical investigation to protect Montana children and assist Montana parents. The media reports about TikTok potentially aiding Mexican drug cartels, turning a blind eye to sexual predators, and enabling its recommendation engine to promote pornographic materials, drug use, eating disorders, violent ‘challenges,’ and suicidal ideation among teens and preteens are beyond troubling,” AG Knudsen commented. “Montana is happy to take the lead at looking into potential violations of state law by this Chinese social media goliath to help parents keep their children safe online and crack down on platforms which potentially misrepresent their safety features for financial gain.”
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