Judge says TikTok must turn meeting records over in US states probe

Credit: REUTERS/MIKE BLAKE

By David Shepardson

Dec 15 (Reuters) - A state judge on Friday ordered TikTok to comply with a request from the North Carolina Attorney General's Office for records in a multistate investigation into whether the app puts young people at risk.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said the attorneys general investigating since 2022 have discovered TikTok had an archive of tens of thousands of recorded internal Zoom meetings that the company initially failed to disclose for nearly a year and a half.

The court order requires TikTok to turn over lists of all Zoom recordings that may help the attorneys general in their investigation, Stein said.

"TikTok does not get to choose which parts of the law it complies with," Stein said. "We’re going full steam ahead in our investigation to protect our kids.”

A TikTok spokesperson said on Friday it would appeal the ruling. The company has said previously it "has industry-leading safeguards for young people, including an automatic 60-minute time limit for users under 18 and parental controls for teen accounts."

In October, Utah sued TikTok, accusing it of harming children by intentionally keeping young users spending unhealthy amounts of time on the short-video sharing platform. Indiana and Arkansas previously filed similar suits.

TikTok, with more than 150 million U.S. users, is very popular among young people. Pew Research Center said 67% of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 use TikTok, and 16% of all teens say they use the app almost constantly.

Utah's lawsuit said the videos leverage "highly powerful algorithms and manipulative design features, many of which mimic features of slot machines" and the result "of these manipulative tactics is that young consumers become hooked."

Arkansas also sued both TikTok and Facebook-parent Meta Platforms META.O in March "for pushing addictive platforms."

Last year, a group of Republican lawmakers said "many children are exposed to non-stop offerings of inappropriate content that TikTok’s algorithm force-feeds to them."

A Senate panel said the CEOs of TikTok, Meta, X (formerly Twitter), Snap SNAP.N and Discord will testify on online child sexual exploitation at a Jan. 31 hearing.

Legislation to give the Biden administration new tools to address foreign-owned apps like TikTok raising national security concerns has stalled.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Bill Berkrot)

((David.Shepardson@thomsonreuters.com; 2028988324;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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