Meta, formally Facebook, is being sued by 33 states in federal court and nine attorneys filing for their States, bringing the number of states involved to 41 plus D.C.
The lawsuits allege that Meta has utilized the data of children under 13 without their parent’s consent.
Additionally, the lawsuits allege that Meta has caused harm to teenagers and children through addictive and manipulative practices.
Breaking News: Dozens of states sued Meta, accusing the parent company of Facebook and Instagram of knowingly using features to hook children to its platforms, saying its algorithms were designed to push children and teens into toxic and harmful content. https://t.co/hsOOuyvldZ
— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 24, 2023
The Associated Press speaks more on the lawsuits:
“Kids and teenagers are suffering from record levels of poor mental health and social media companies like Meta are to blame,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James in a statement. “Meta has profited from children’s pain by intentionally designing its platforms with manipulative features that make children addicted to their platforms while lowering their self-esteem.
In a statement, Meta said it shares “the attorneys general’s commitment to providing teens with safe, positive experiences online, and have already introduced over 30 tools to support teens and their families.”
“We’re disappointed that instead of working productively with companies across the industry to create clear, age-appropriate standards for the many apps teens use, the attorneys general have chosen this path,” the company added.
The broad-ranging federal suit is the result of an investigation led by a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Vermont. It follows damning newspaper reports, first by The Wall Street Journal in the fall of 2021, based on the Meta’s own research that found that the company knew about the harms Instagram can cause teenagers — especially teen girls — when it comes to mental health and body image issues. One internal study cited 13.5% of teen girls saying Instagram makes thoughts of suicide worse and 17% of teen girls saying it makes eating disorders worse.
It deeply upsets me the irreparable impact of Meta and other social media companies on our youth.
So many children are being raised on these platforms, resulting in an epidemic of mental illness.
A lawsuit is a step in the right direction.
Media conglomerates must be held responsible for the negative impact that they are having on our youth.
A group of 42 attorneys general is suing Meta over addictive features aimed at kids & teens.
Facebook is an insidious purveyor of fake news, & a gross invader of users’ privacy.
Mark Zuckerberg is an enemy of the state, and should be in prison for life.https://t.co/yZIqntLNbA
— Dr. David A. Lustig (@drdave1999) October 24, 2023
Check out what one of the attorneys suing Meta has to say:
I sued Meta because they don’t see youngsters as children to be protected, they see them as dollar signs to be exploited. Proud to help lead this bipartisan group of 42 state AGs to hold Meta accountable. https://t.co/f4xzNIYaPu
— Josh Stein (@JoshStein_) October 24, 2023
CNBC speaks more on the story:
It’s not the first time a broad coalition of state attorneys general have teamed up to go after Meta. In 2020, 48 states and territories sued the company on antitrust grounds, alongside a separate complaint from the Federal Trade Commission.
Meta designed its Facebook and Instagram products to keep young users on them for longer and repeatedly coming back, the attorneys general allege. According to the federal complaint, Meta did this via the design of its algorithms, copious alerts, notifications and so-called infinite scroll through platform feeds. The company also includes features that the AGs allege negatively impact teens’ mental health through social comparison or promoting body dysmorphia, such as “likes” or photo filters.
The federal suit also accuses Meta of violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, by collecting personal data on users under 13 without parental consent.
Meta always speaks about the parental safety features they implement to help combat the harmful effects on children.
But here’s the thing.
I would bet a lot of parents don’t understand the adverse effects that being on social media can have on children.
And that’s not their fault.
Social media is a relatively new thing and won’t be for a while until we fully understand its effect on us.
Indeed, this complex problem will involve years of hard work for both our legal system and tech companies to solve.
Until then, it may be best to keep our kids off these platforms.