FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Todd Rokita’s battle against TikTok took center stage in an Allen County courtroom Friday.
A slew of lawyers for the Indiana Attorney General, who is suing the social media giant and its parent company, presented evidence before an Allen Superior Court judge they claim show that TikTok needs to change its rating in app stores and stop misrepresenting itself to consumers.
In one of two lawsuits Rokita filed against TikTok and Bytedance LTD late last year, the attorney general asserts that the social media app has drawn children onto its platform through misleading representations that indicate the app contains only “infrequent/mild” sexual content, profanity and drug references.
The attorney general claims TikTok is “rife with extreme examples of such material.”
“Sexual content, profanity and drug references run rampant in TikTok videos,” Rokita said. “This kind of material threatens the mental and physical health of young Hoosiers, and not only TikTok but also vendors must make it clear to families that TikTok is wholly inappropriate for kids.”
In court Friday, Rokita’s team was seeking a preliminary injunction which would bar TikTok from qualifying for a “12+” age rating in the Apple App Store and keep it from claiming that it has infrequent references to alcohol, tobacco or drug use and sexual or mature themes.
In a motion filed last year seeking a preliminary injunction, Rokita’s team called TikTok’s misrepresentations in the Apple App Store “unfair, abusive, or deceptive acts, omissions or practices in connection with consumer transaction,” according to court documents.
“This injury to Indiana consumers outweighs any potential harm to TikTok from granting a preliminary injunction because TikTok is already obligated to convey truthful information to Indiana consumers,” Rokita’s team wrote in court documents.
During the morning portion of a scheduled 7-hour hearing before Judge Craig Bobay, Rokita’s team presented various TikTok videos showing people smoking marijuana, vaping and drinking alcohol.
Rokita himself was not present in the courtroom. A few lawyers were present to represent TikTok.
It was unclear whether Bobay, who seemed to be considering the admissibility of evidence, would make any ruling today.
Rokita released a statement Friday evening regarding the hearing:
“Our team put forward its case demonstrating in court today that TikTok’s app has dangerous depictions of drug use, alcohol consumption, illicit sexual activities and other harmful content. TikTok’s false assurance that its app is safe for users as young as 12 years old is a violation of Indiana’s Deceptive Consumer Sales Act. I’m proud of our team’s excellent legal work in this case. We will continue to unwaveringly work to protect young Hoosiers and hold this Chinese-Communist-controlled company accountable.”
WANE 15 will have further updates as they become available.