Forty-one states and the District of Columbia have filed lawsuits against Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, alleging that Meta deliberately designs its platforms with addictive features that harm children.
The federal complaint asserts that Meta uses a “scheme to exploit young users for profit,” including a business model that succeeds by maximizing young users’ time spent on Facebook and Instagram.
“Meta designed and deployed harmful and psychologically manipulative product features to induce young users’ compulsive and extended Platform use, while falsely assuring the public that its features were safe and suitable for young users,” the complaint states.
It further asserts that Meta violates federal laws governing children’s privacy by collecting data from younger users. State officials further allege that Meta knowingly introduced alterations to retain young users on its platforms, even at the cost of their well-being, thus violating consumer protection laws.
The lawsuits are the outcome of an investigation initiated in 2021, which probed the impact of Meta’s platforms on the mental health of young users.
The legal maneuvers consist of a joint lawsuit filed by thirty-three states. Additionally, attorneys general from D.C. and eight states have initiated separate complaints in federal, state, or local courts.
While the specific contentions of the lawsuits vary slightly, the overarching narrative accuses Meta of luring young users through harmful and manipulative tactics.
In response, Meta expressed its disappointment that attorneys general opted for legal action instead of collaborative efforts with the industry to establish clear, age-appropriate standards for teen-oriented apps, as reported by The Washington Post.