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Iowa has initiated legal action against the social media platform TikTok, alleging that the app has misrepresented the nature and frequency of inappropriate content to circumvent parental controls.

The lawsuit argues TikTok inappropriately attained a “12+” rating in Apple’s App Store by falsely asserting that its platform infrequently features sexual content, nudity, profanity, crude humor, mature themes, and references to alcohol, tobacco, or drug use.


The state’s complaint adds that TikTok deliberately seeks to evade Apple device parental controls through its current app rating. According to the lawsuit, a more accurate rating of “17+” would activate parental restrictions on phones, preventing many children from accessing the app. Iowa further accuses TikTok of providing misleading information about its Restricted Mode, which is designed to filter out inappropriate content, as well as in its Community Guidelines and on listings in the Google Play and Microsoft stores.

In a statement, Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird said, “TikTok has kept parents in the dark. It’s time we shine a light on TikTok for exposing young children to graphic materials such as sexual content, self-harm, illegal drug use, and worse.” Bird vowed that, as both a mother and a prosecutor, she would inform parents and hold TikTok accountable for bypassing parental restrictions by misrepresenting the severity of its content.

This legal challenge follows a similar lawsuit filed by Indiana in December 2022, which accused TikTok of deceptively marketing itself as suitable for users aged 13 to 17 on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.


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