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I have some interesting news for parents who worry about what social media are doing to their kids. If you go to this website, you will see a page with the heading, “JOIN THE FIGHT: Stop TikTok from Destroying America’s Youth.” The host of the site is ClaimsHero, a consumer arbitration platform that helps little guys battle big guys in arbitration cases. ClaimsHero is not itself a law firm, only a service that helps people with claims get in touch with the right attorneys and that shows them how to manage the complex arbitration process.

I learned about ClaimsHero while writing about lawsuits that have been filed against social media companies for marketing dangerous products to kids. We should treat those corporations as we do cigarette companies, knowing that nothing pleases the owners more than a twelve-year-old who’s on the platform three hours a day, I argued. More than half of the states in America are now suing Meta for damaging the mental and social condition of our youth, mainly through Facebook and Instagram. I hope they succeed.

The ClaimsHero case is a bit different. The company has joined forces with attorneys Kyle Roche of Kyle Roche P.A. and Vel Freedman of Freedman Normand Friedland LLP to target TikTok, arguing specifically that TikTok needs to be held accountable for allegedly designing its app to exploit and addict American children. Needless to say, the more children are drawn and held to the app, the more TikTok maximizes profits.

I contacted ClaimsHero to fill First Things readers in on the project. Here is the reply of Kelvin Goode, CEO.

What is the lawsuit against TikTok about?

ClaimsHero is spearheading efforts to raise awareness and support American families whose children have been adversely affected by TikTok, guiding them in filing arbitrations to seek recovery. 

Where did the idea for this action come from?

Research shows a detrimental harm caused by TikTok addiction among American children, and while many parents are painfully aware of this problem, few understand the rights they have to pursue claims against TikTok, such as arbitration. With heightened media and political scrutiny on the issue, coupled with TikTok's strategic modifications to its Terms of Service, we knew now was the time to hold TikTok accountable for its actions. In fact, the urgency has also grown since our launch. Recently, TikTok discreetly inserted a one-year limitation period for any claims brought against them, a development we’ve brought to light through coverage by the New York Times as part of our efforts to raise awareness. 

Have these types of claims been brought against TikTok before?

Absolutely. Currently, there are active claims in both state and federal courts in California, accusing TikTok of creating a highly addictive product without properly warning users about its addictive nature. TikTok attempted to dismiss these claims, invoking Section 230 and First Amendment rights, but both state and federal courts rejected the dismissal. The federal court ruled that these protections don't shield TikTok from negligence claims, emphasizing the platform's responsibility to design reasonably safe products and warn users of defects. Consequently, the cases are moving forward in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and the Los Angeles County Superior Court. The concerns raised against TikTok involve its impact on children's impulse control, the algorithm's role in exacerbating mental health issues, and the absence or inadequacy of age verification and parental control tools.

What kind of damage caused by social media have you witnessed among the young?

Working with potential claimants, ClaimsHero has heard countless heartbreaking stories of severe harm caused by TikTok, including cases of anorexia, self-harm, and depression among young users. Take just a few examples. A woman told us about how her daughter developed severe anorexia that caused her to go to the hospital three times. A grandmother shared the struggles of her autistic grandson who pulled out two teeth based on the content he saw. A father recounted that his sons became so depressed they had to drop out of school.

Why TikTok versus other social media platforms?

This is because of TikTok’s reach with teens and the dangers of its platform. Per the Pew Research Center, after YouTube, TikTok is the most used social media app, with sixty-seven percent of American teens aged thirteen to seventeen using it.  

And studies show that the content being fed to these teenagers can be especially harmful. The Center for Countering Digital Hate reported in a study that in the United States, when thirteen-year-olds set up new TikTok accounts, they were shown suicide content within 2.6 minutes and eating disorder content within eight minutes. This stands in stark contrast to the Chinese version of TikTok, where children are limited to forty minutes a day on the app and shown content like science experiments, museum exhibits, and educational videos. 

With this “Diet of Darkness” being fed to two out of every three American teens, ClaimsHero was compelled to act to help afflicted children and their families. 

What is the schedule for the legal action?

ClaimsHero is actively collecting and evaluating potential claims against TikTok, and assisting our legal partners in pursuing individual and speedy arbitrations to hold the platform accountable for harm to American kids.

How might people support your work or get involved themselves?

To support ClaimsHero's cause or get involved, visit, where you can fill out a brief intake survey if someone in your family has been harmed. Otherwise, please spread the message among friends, family, and concerned groups to support the broader movement for a safer online environment for America's children.

Mark Bauerlein is a contributing editor at First Things.

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Image by Doctorxgc licensed via Creative Commons. Image cropped.                                        

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