Idaho attorney general joins 46 other states in TikTok investigation

TikTok is a popular social media platform where users can create short videos to share with others. Photo credit:

Idaho joined 46 other states on Monday in asking TikTok to comply with an ongoing investigation into whether the company violated consumer protection laws and the role of the app on the mental well-being of young people.

Attorney General Raúl Labrador acted in response to Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti who asked a Tennessee court to order TikTok to produce subpoenaed materials sought by the investigation. This investigation began last year when eight states launched bipartisan efforts to see whether the social media platform is endangering young people and violating state consumer protection laws.

Labrador said TikTok has a significant role in the ongoing youth mental health crisis and the platform’s cooperation in this investigation is critical.

“With the rise of social media platforms, youth mental health challenges are at an all-time high,” Labrador said in a press release. “Apps such as TikTok are aiding the rise in depression, anxiety, and creating unattainable standards, especially for young women. We must be able to obtain the necessary documents to fully investigate these concerns. Our youth deserve our protection.”

Impact of social media on mental health

Government leaders’ concerns about a mental health crisis among teens and young adults and the role of social media in this problem have merit.

According to a study from the non-profit The Center for Countering Digital Hate, new TikTok accounts were recommending self-harm and eating disorder content within minutes of scrolling the app’s “For You” feed.

The study reported that suicide content was recommended within two minutes and eating disorder content was recommended within eight minutes. The report also revealed that TikTok showed teen accounts’ body image and mental health content every 39 seconds.

“This report examines TikTok’s role in recommending eating disorder and mental health content to vulnerable users,” the study said. “Our findings should not be interpreted as a criticism of those TikTok users who use the app to discuss their own mental health.”

Being exposed to mental health content may have positive consequences in some circumstances by introducing teens struggling with mental health to a community.

“One of the main benefits of talking about mental health on TikTok is that users are exposed to people with different conditions,” said Peter Wallerich-Neils in an article from the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, who uses his Tiktok to discuss his ADHD diagnosis. “When they find other people with their own issues, they can start a dialogue about their symptoms.”

You can read the press release from the office of the Idaho Attorney General regarding the investigation here.