POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Utah vs. TikTok: What comes next?

Jan 30, 2024, 1:00 PM

The icon for the video sharing TikTok app is seen on a smartphone, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, in Marpl...

FILE - The icon for the video sharing TikTok app is seen on a smartphone, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, in Marple Township, Pa. (Matt Slocum, Associated Press)

(Matt Slocum, Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY — In its lawsuit against TikTok, the state of Utah accuses the platform of designing its interface to harm young users. And that’s only one of the allegations the state is making. 

According to Hanna Seariac, a staff writer for the Deseret News, the other allegations presented in the lawsuit are “startling.”   

Seariac told KSL NewsRadio’s Inside Sources that both sides are likely to argue their case in court, and may provide even more documentation to support their claims. 

But as for who might win in court, Seariac said there’s no slam dunk.

“I’m not sure the likely outcome of the suit,” Seariac said.  

Seariac said that TikTok did not respond to her request for comment when she was writing her piece. However, the tech company previously said that it has implemented “industry-leading” safeguards on its app. 

“I expect that in the future, we’ll see more of what TikTok considers these industry-leading safeguards to be. And Utah will continue with litigation,” Seariac said. 

Also in limbo is Utah’s first-of-its-kind social media law. The Utah Social Media Regulation Act was signed into law in 2023. It was supposed to take effect on March 1, 2024. However the act was delayed in late January 2024. Now it’s supposed to take effect on Oct. 1, 2024. 

Utah vs TikTok

According to the State of Utah vs TikTok court filing, the tech company’s data revealed that children between the ages of 13 and 17 check the app about 17 times each day.

Additionally, the state alleged that TikTok is aware that 20% of its users in that age group use the app late at night. The time frame is defined as the hours between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. 

Utah has the highest number of children per capita with 27.6% of the population under the age of 18. 

“If you’re on social media constantly, you’re not having those engaging conversations with the people around you. If [they’re] using TikTok during school or TikTok after school, children are missing out on the opportunity to engage with their peers and to engage with their parents and siblings and family members,” said Seariac. 

Among a list of allegations, the Utah vs. TikTok filing alleges that the company’s mission is a lie. The tech company’s website reads “Our mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy.” However, the State of Utah claims that it intentionally designed “an addictive product.” 

What does the future hold? 

Following the spread of artificially produced pornographic images of Taylor Swift, Seariac predicted that “the intersection of artificial intelligence and social media as well as artificial intelligence and pornography is going to become a bigger issue.”

She said that social media’s connection to the issue could impact legislation, as social platforms are often where explicit images circulate. 

Related: Utah’s social media child protection law put on hold

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Utah vs. TikTok: What comes next?