Attorney General Paxton has joined a pair of Montana-led letters sent to Apple and Google demanding that the Big Tech companies increase the maturity rating of TikTok in their application stores.
Google Play currently displays a “T” rating, indicating that TikTok is generally suitable for ages 13 and up, while Apple displays a “12+” age rating. These ratings are misleading, as TikTok contains a number of explicit videos that often show up in minors’ “For You” feeds–meaning that, without even seeking it out, children can be exposed to non-age-appropriate content related to alcohol, drug use, and sex.
In the letters, the coalition urges Google to adopt an “M” for “Mature” rating and urges Apple to adopt a “17+” rating. This change would allow parents to better protect their children from the adult content often seen on TikTok.
The letter to Google states: “This deception has real consequences for kids and parents. Parents rely on Google Play’s age-rating descriptions when deciding which apps they will allow their kids to use. . . . Exposure to drug, alcohol, and tobacco content on social media makes kids more likely to use or experiment with those illicit substances in real life. And exposure to sexual content on TikTok can lead to pornography addiction and even the sexual exploitation of kids by online predators.”
If the two companies refuse to make these changes and help shield children from explicit content, the coalition is prepared to take further actions, as the letter to Apple explains: “The undersigned State Attorneys General urge you to take immediate action to correct TikTok’s rating in the App Store from ‘12+’ to ‘17+’ and to correct the age rating descriptions that accompany it. Absent such action, we reserve the right to take legal action against Apple for the ongoing misrepresentations about TikTok in the App Store, up to and including litigation and civil penalties.”
To read the letter to Google, click here.
To read the letter to Apple, click here.