LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas is taking two social media giants to court.
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Attorney General Tim Griffin announced Tuesday that the state was filing three lawsuits targeting social media companies TikTok and Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram.
Arkansas is basing its lawsuits on the claim the companies violated the state’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act, with the governor and AG claiming the companies were untruthful in assuring the safety of their applications for use by young people.
In a statement after the lawsuits were filed, Sanders called out how Arkansas is leading the charge in taking on social media platforms.
“We have to hold Big Tech companies accountable for pushing addictive platforms on our kids and exposing them to a world of inappropriate, damaging content,” Sanders said. “Arkansas is leading the charge on filing three lawsuits against TikTok and Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram.”
The deception that the state claims Meta engaged in regards the addictive nature of its platform, the suit contends.
Sanders pointed out the increasing mental health crisis among teens and increasing depression in that age group, especially among teenage girls.
“These actions are a long time coming. We have watched over the past decade as one social media company after another has exploited our kids for profit and escaped government oversight,” she said. “My administration will not tolerate that failed status quo.”
The governor claimed the lawsuit against Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, would be the first of its kind in the country with a state taking on the multi-billion-dollar company.
“They will pay for the damage done that they are doing to our kids,” she said.
The claims against TikTok are broken down into two lawsuits. The first targets the company’s alleged violation of safety for underage viewers. Sanders spoke about how viewers of the platform of any age could see drug and alcohol use and sexually suggestive themes without restriction.
“It’s false that minors can’t access the kind of content I’m talking about,” Sanders said.
The second TikTok suit focuses on the security of user data, claiming that since the Chinese Communist Party partially owns TikTok’s parent company ByteDance and that by that ownership has open access to the data, the data is not secure.
“China is not our friend,” Griffin said, “and they don’t have your best interests at heart.”
The attorney general noted that U.S. military leaders have been warning about TikTok and ByteDance “for years” and calling the apps continued use in the country a “national security issue.”
Griffin continued to explain that the first lawsuit against TikTok regarding its content access is under seal due to it having confidential information gathered from outside the state. While not declaring which other states provided information, Griffin did point out his long-standing relationship with Indiana’s attorney general without naming AG Todd Rokita.
The suit against Meta was filed in Polk County, while the suits against TikTok were filed in Polk and Union Counties.