By Jack Brewer and Erica Lukes
The state of Utah is suing TikTok, accusing the social media company of contributing harm to the mental health of youth. The office of Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes suggested TikTok is lying about the safety of its product and exploiting the public while disregarding the terrible effects it has on mental health, physical development, family, and social life. At a recent news conference, Governor Spencer Cox indicated the lawsuit is grounded in consumer protection. Urged to elaborate on what the company did that was specifically illegal, Attorney General Reyes stated TikTok engages in “deception.”
Some might consider that to be a stark contrast from the Attorney General's endorsements of activities conducted at Skinwalker Ranch. The ranch crew is widely known for its unapologetic cultivation and promotion of dubious, unverified tales. Those tales include claims of mysterious, Havana Syndrome-like phenomena, as well as the uncontrolled spread of a purported deadly contagion, dubbed the “hitchhiker effect.” Such claims of public health dangers made by Skinwalker Ranch television cast members were extensively covered by Expanding Frontiers Research as well as Stephen Greenstreet of the New York Post.
Expanding Frontiers Research reached out to the Utah Office of the Attorney General for comment. No responses had been received at the time of this post.
Reyes is widely known to publicly support the activities of Skinwalker Ranch and Brandon Fugal, the reported owner of the property. This includes Reyes taking the time to participate in a Skinwalker Ranch panel at the 2022 FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention.
Skinwalker Ranch may not currently be at the top of the list of daily priorities reviewed by staffers in the Attorney General office. Their hands are full fielding - or deflecting, depending on who you ask - questions about Reyes's relationship with Tim Ballard, who is at the center of a civil lawsuit involving sexual assault, fraud and emotional abuse. Reyes was supportive of Ballard and his activities prior to his pending fall from grace.
Tim Ballard is the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, an organization supposed to be combating human trafficking. The Ballard lawsuit represents yet another public relations blow to Utah anti-human trafficking groups, already reeling after some 31 felony charges were leveled against the director of Exitus, a Utah nonprofit organization at least ostensibly dedicated to the cause.
Reyes went all-in on the Skinwalker Ranch narrative when he appeared on episodes of the cable television show, The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch. The Attorney General “lent his credibility to the investigation of paranormal activities" portrayed on the show, KSL reported.