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A new lawsuit against TikTok filed in Utah describes the social media app popular among child users as a “virtual strip club,” arguing that it puts kids at risk.

The Utah Division of Consumer Protection is accusing TikTok of “profiting from deceptive design features that facilitate sexual exploitation, sex trafficking, the distribution of pornography, and other illegal acts through its virtual currency system in violation of the Utah Consumer Sales Practices Act (‘UCSPA’).”

“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,” Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said in a Monday statement. “Our investigation confirmed TikTok knows of the damage to young victims but feels it makes far too much money to stop.”

A TikTok spokesperson told Fox News Digital in a statement that the app has “industry-leading policies and measures to help protect the safety and well-being of teens.”

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The photo taken on April 3, 2024 shows instructor Wang Yaxuan using her phone to livestream on TikTok at Mede Education Technology's e-commerce school in Guangzhou, in southern China's Guangdong province. Donning hijabs and floor-length abaya gowns over shorts and tank tops, Chinese students at an e-commerce school perform into a smartphone camera as they learn how to sell the clothes to overseas TikTok users.

The Utah Division of Consumer Protection is accusing TikTok of “profiting from deceptive design features that facilitate sexual exploitation, sex trafficking, the distribution of pornography, and other illegal acts through its virtual currency system in violation of the Utah Consumer Sales Practices Act.” (JADE GAO/AFP via Getty Images)

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

The redacted lawsuit filed on Monday specifically takes aim at a feature on TikTok called LIVE in which users can stream live videos to their accounts in real time. The UCSPA says that combined with the app’s virtual currency system, which allows users to be paid for their content, “this feature allows adults to prey on children in many egregious ways, including by transacting with and soliciting sexual acts from minors.”

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“Despite knowing and facilitating these dangers, the company turns a blind eye because LIVE has helped make TikTok very rich,” the lawsuit states.

A girl holds her smartphone in her hands on which she has opened @madelainepetsch's profile in the short video app TikTok.

TikTok users must be 18 years or older to use the social media app’s livestreaming feature. (Jens Kalaene/picture alliance)

TikTok’s community guidelines state that the app does “not allow content that may put young people at risk of psychological, physical, or developmental harm.” The app has changed its guidelines over the years so that users must now be 18 years or older to use LIVE, but the Utah lawsuit argues that the app does not properly safeguard children from accessing and using the feature. 

The lawsuit gives the example of Charli D’Amelio, a popular influencer on TikTok with more than 150 million followers, who “was frequently allowed to live stream at just 15 years old, despite the minimum age requirement to host on LIVE being 16” at the time.

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The UCSPA states that the “company knows LIVE operates in part like a virtual strip club, providing streamers with a performance stage, and allowing users to hand over virtual money.”

Charli D'Amelio on a TikTok LIVE video as an adult

The lawsuit gives the example of Charli D’Amelio, a popular influencer on TikTok with more than 150 million followers, who “was frequently allowed to live stream at just 15 years old, despite the minimum age requirement to host on LIVE being 16” at the time. (Lawsuit/TikTok)

The complaint further alleges that the LIVE and virtual currency features combined make children more likely to act impulsively and feel encouraged by adults to “strip, spread their legs, and flash body parts to the camera, in exchange for virtual Gifts.”

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“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,” Utah Governor Spencer Cox said of the lawsuit. “We will take all necessary actions to protect them from TikTok’s egregious behavior.”

AG Reyes further stated that there “are so many layers of harm in [TikTok’s] practices that we cannot wait a day longer to act.”

A girl holds a phone with TikTok open

The Utah lawsuit alleges that TikTok’s LIVE and virtual currency features combined make children more likely to act impulsively and feel encouraged by adults to “strip, spread their legs, and flash body parts to the camera, in exchange for virtual Gifts.” (Photo by Jens Kalaene/picture alliance via Getty Images)

“The State of Utah is front and center in the fight against child exploitation. This suit is just one of many ways we are fighting for child safety online,” he said.

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TikTok has been the subject of numerous state and federal-level lawsuits alleging that the app poses both mental and physical threats to children who use it. President Biden in April signed a Senate-passed bill to force TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, to sell the app or be banned in the United States. American lawmakers accuse the platform of being a risk to U.S. national security, collecting user data, and spreading propaganda. 

Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.



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