Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General
Jason S. Miyares
202 North 9th Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219
Virginia Relay Service
For media inquiries only, contact:
Attorney General Miyares Calls on Apple and Google to Correct TikTok Age Rating
RICHMOND, VA – Attorney General Jason Miyares joined 14 other state attorneys general today to call on Apple and Google to take immediate action and correct their application store age ratings of TikTok by the end of the year. The change will help parents protect their children from being force-fed harmful content online.
In a pair of letters to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, the coalition of attorneys general outlined the deceptive nature of the current ratings for the social media application in their story. They said that without the rating corrections, the States reserve the right to take legal action against the companies for misrepresenting TikTok, up to and including litigation and civil penalties.
The current ratings of "T” for "Teen” in the Google Play App store and "12+” in Apple's App Store falsely represents the objectionable content found and served to children on TikTok. While TikTok does have a "restricted mode” available, it is also aware that many of its users are under 13 and have lied about their age to create a profile on its platform.
"TikTok's ineffective software's age-verification features fail to filter content based on age appropriateness ratings. It deceives parents into allowing their children to be potentially exposed to mature content – involving both harmful substances and sexual innuendos – which have real consequences on their development and health,” said Attorney General Miyares. "Apple and Google have a responsibility to correct the categorical appropriateness standards of TikTok on Google Play and the Apple App Store.”
The TikTok app contains frequent and intense alcohol, tobacco, and drug use or references, sexual content, profanity, and mature/suggestive themes. TikTok users can search for hundreds of thousands of hashtags related to these topics, which each return thousands of videos in these categories—instructional videos about drug use, descriptions of drinking games, recipes for cannabis edibles, demonstrations of vaping tricks, pole dancing routines, and millions of videos set to songs with explicit lyrics, which TikTok makes available to users in its music library. TikTok not only allows users to find this content, but it suggests it to users through its "autocomplete” search function and by offering this type of content to users on the "For You” page – including for accounts registered to 13-year-old users.