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TikTok is sued by Utah for “virtual strip clubs”



Salt Lake City, Utah – According to a recent complaint, the State of Utah is charging TikTok for permitting “virtual strip clubs” on its website, which results in the sexual exploitation of minors.

The Utah Division of Consumer Protection filed the lawsuit on Monday, alleging that TikTok’s live-streaming feature, known as TikTok LIVE, allows adults to give virtual cash to minors in exchange for “sexual solicitation and exploitation.” In addition, the lawsuit claims TikTok profited from the exchange by keeping a portion of every transaction.

“TikTok has created a virtual strip club, allowing minors to be exploited across America by connecting innocent victims to predators in real-time. Adding insult to injury, Live facilitates money laundering while TikTok quietly charges fifty percent on every transaction to profit in the billions from the entire enterprise,” said Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes. “Our investigation confirmed TikTok knows of the damage to young victims but it feels it makes far too much money to stop.”

According to a representative for TikTok, the social media platform has industry-leading procedures and safeguards in place to assist ensure the security and welfare of its younger users.

“Creators must be at least 18 years old before they can go LIVE and their account must meet a follower requirement,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement. “We immediately revoke access to features if we find accounts that do not meet our age requirements.”

The state’s newest lawsuit reportedly comes from its continued investigation into TikTok’s practices of its “addictive algorithm.” Utah further alleges the LIVE feature opens the door for financial crimes as well such as money laundering, gambling rings, drug sells, and to “fund terrorism.”

“I find the new allegations against TikTok Live not merely concerning but incredibly disturbing. Such disregard for the safety of young users on the platform, much less profiting off their exploitation, cannot and will not be tolerated,” said Utah Gov. Spencer Cox. “We will take all necessary actions to protect them from TikTok’s egregious behavior.”

The State of Utah has sued TikTok before. This is not the first time. Governor Spencer Cox of Utah and Reyes said in October 2023 that the Chinese-owned business “illegally baits children into addictive and unhealthy use.” Regarding the same accusations, the state also sued Meta, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram.

Gov. Cox has made it her goal to hold social media companies responsible for the past year. Cox and Reyes notified social media firms of anticipated lawsuits in January 2023. Additionally, Utah started a public awareness effort to alert parents to the supposed negative impacts of social media on mental health, body image, and other issues.

To better control social media platforms in the state, Utah lawmakers passed legislation mandating more stringent controls on kid accounts, such as age verification requirements and a curfew on specific activities. The tech sector has criticized these rules, with one nonprofit trade group claiming that Utah’s laws are unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

Legislators from Utah have since amended the Social Media Regulation Act, which is scheduled to take effect in October of this year.



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