‘Virtual Strip Club:’ Utah Sues China’s TikTok over Platform Sexualizing Children

Nebraska NCAA college pole vaulter Jessica Gardner looks at her phone Thursday, March 9, 2
AP Photo/Rebecca S. Gratz

The state of Utah is suing China’s TikTok, alleging the popular app’s “Live” feature is “a virtual strip club” for minors that lets adults pay children “to strip, pose, and dance provocatively” in exchange for money.

Utah Governor Spencer Cox (R) and Attorney General Sean D. Reyes (R) announced the lawsuit last week, alleging the Chinese app “has consciously allowed young people to be sexually exploited on the TikTok platform in exchange for money.”

The governor and attorney general go on to claim that the app’s feature known as TikTok LIVE “lets adult users give TikTok currency to young users in exchange for sexual solicitation and exploitation while the company takes a cut of each payment.”

Shou Zi Chew, chief executive officer of TikTok Inc., speaks during the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore, on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. The New Economy Forum is being organized by Bloomberg Media Group, a division of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News. Photographer: Bryan van der Beek/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The lawsuit describes TikTok as “a virtual strip club involving minors” that has become “a seedy underbelly of sexual exploitation,” and cites “TikTok’s own internal studies and the admissions of its employees.”

“TikTok LIVE has allowed adults to pay young users to strip, pose, and dance provocatively for currency that can be cashed out for real money,” Gov. Cox and Attorney General Reyes say.

“LIVE is far from a safe place for users — particularly children — and these dangers are no accident,” the complaint states. “The harmful and unconscionable acts on LIVE stem directly from TikTok’s inapp virtual economy, which has already facilitated billions of dollars in transactions.”

“The money is exchanged among users, stored on user accounts, and withdrawn from the platform, with little to no oversight, despite TikTok’s control over the platform. This monetary scheme has fostered an alarming culture of exploitation and illegal activity,” the lawsuit adds.

This is the second lawsuit Gov. Cox and Attorney General Reyes have filed against China’s popular and controversial TikTok app.

In October 2023, Utah filed a lawsuit against TikTok alleging the Chinese app “illegally baits children into addictive and unhealthy use, blatantly misrepresents the app’s safety, and deceptively portrays itself as independent of its China-based parent company ByteDance.”

As Breitbart News reported, TikTok is the subject of the recently passed sell-or-ban legislation, calling on the app’s parent company ByteDance, which is beholden to the Chinese Communist Party, to sell TikTok by January or else face a ban in the United States.

ByteDance and TikTok responded to the legislation by filing a court petition against U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland “for review of constitutionality” of the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act.

TikTok is widely considered a national security threat by U.S. lawmakers in both the Republican and Democrat Party, given that its parent company is controlled by Chinese communists.

Moreover, the Chinese app has already shown itself to be a physical danger to kids and teens, and is facing multiple lawsuits brought by several families who say the social media platform controlled by a hostile foreign country is directly responsible for the deaths of their children.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and X at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


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