Home TikTok lawyers push back on addiction lawsuit claims

TikTok lawyers push back on addiction lawsuit claims


  • In a US court filing, lawyers allege TikTok offers safety features selectively, implying negligence in protecting American youth.
  • ByteDance, TikTok's parent company, refuses to disclose Douyin's (Chinese TikTok) operations, dismissing it as irrelevant to the case.
  • TikTok faces over 1,000 lawsuits alleging addictive algorithms harming youth, amid US legislation urging divestment from its Chinese parent.

Lawyers suing TikTok in the United States say the social media platform offers “safety features in some countries and not others,” by implication saying that TikTok could do more to protect young people in the US.

In a court filing on Wednesday, lawyers representing youths and their parents claim TikTok “provides safety features in some countries and not others,” and that the differences between how TikTok operates in various countries are relevant to their case.

But ByteDance, TikTok’s China-based parent company, is refusing to share more information about Douyin — the Chinese counterpart to TikTok — with the U.S-based lawyers lambasting the company for insisting that “what happens overseas should stay overseas.”

A ‘discovery detour’

“The overseas version of the platform appears to protect children in China in ways that the US version does not afford children here,” the federal court filing reads.

However, legal representatives for ByteDance countered that the seeking of information of how the app operates external to the US is not relevant and amounts to nothing more than a “discovery detour.”

These attorneys also argue that there isn’t a need for “open-ended discovery of the TikTok Platform across over 150 countries worldwide, let alone discovery on different services operated exclusively within China.”

They added, “Those services were developed for use in other countries and are subject to different laws and regulations, reflecting those countries’ different cultures and priorities.” According to Bloomberg, TikTok faces more than 1,000 lawsuits, filed in U.S. state and federal courts, by parents, school districts and others.

The social media company, along with others platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Snap, are generally accused of using algorithms to keep young people hooked on their platforms. This social media use is likened to an addictive disorder that purportedly causes youths to struggle with eating disorders, sleeplessness, anxiety and depression.

The lawsuit also comes after President Biden signed into law a bill that demands that TikTok divest from its Chinese parent or be banned from use in the United States. U.S. policymakers brought the measure on concerns over China’s influence over TikTok and US data security.

Featured Image: Ideogram

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Charlotte Colombo
Freelance Journalist

Charlotte Colombo is a freelance journalist with bylines in Metro.co.uk, Radio Times, The Independent, Daily Dot, Glamour, Stylist, and VICE among others. She most recently worked as a Staff Writer for entertainment outlet The Digital Fix for two years and, prior to that, worked with Business Insider and Dexerto on their digital culture desks. She’s also appeared on BBC Radio 5 and The Guardian podcast to share her expertise on technology, influencers, and niche internet subcultures. She holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London and has been freelancing for three years. She has a wide range…

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