RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares has joined 46 other Attorneys General in a coalition which claims that employees at TikTok having been deleting internal messages and are not complying with an ongoing investigation into TikTok’s impact on youth mental health.
Miyares and the other state attorneys are currently investigating whether the company engaged in practices that violated consumer protection laws, mainly by harming the mental health of children and teens who use the app.
A statement from Miyares states that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released findings that showed a recent increase in mental health challenges, experiences of violence and suicidal thoughts and behaviors among teenagers, especially in teenage girls. The statement also points to other peer-reviewed research which shows increased social media use is a significant driver of mental health problems in teenagers.
As part of this investigation, the Attorneys General are asking to review internal TikTok communications among employees. However, the latest amicus brief filed by the Attorneys General asserted that TikTok repeatedly failed preserve relevant information and provide internal communications as part of the investigation.
According to the brief, TikTok employees have sent auto-deleting messages on the messaging service called Lark — the main communication tool for the company — since the investigation began. The brief also claims that employees not only deleted relevant messages, but when they did provide internal messages to state attorneys, the messages were difficult to navigate and understand.
The filed brief is now asking a Tennessee court to order the social media company to fully comply with the ongoing investigation by providing full internal communication.
“TikTok’s failure to produce documents crucial to our investigation is disappointing, which is why we’re taking them to court,” Miyares said. “It’s widely known that social media apps like TikTok negatively impact children’s mental health and if the company knew that and participated in behavior that violated Virginians’ consumer rights, we will hold them accountable.”