41 US States Sue Meta For Allegedly Including Features That Are Addictive and Harmful to Children

Accusing the social media company of knowingly violating federal law.

Tech & Gadgets
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41 US states and Washington, D.C. are suing Meta for allegedly making its social media platforms intentionally addictive to children — harming their mental health as a consequence.

According to AP, the suit stems from an investigation by a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee and Vermont, and was filed by 33 states in federal courts in California plus nine attorney generals who filed the suit in their states. It accuses Meta of violating federal law by regularly collecting data on children aged 13 and under without the consent of their parents; companies like Meta prohibit children under 13 years old to join its social media platforms, however kids have been able to work around the ban with and without parental consent. The lawsuit also claims that Meta is painfully aware of the mental health issues Instagram brings to teenagers, especially teenage girls about their bodies, as the company conducted its own research.

The states are seeking financial damages and restitution, as well as putting a stop to Meta’s policies that violate the law.

“Meta has harnessed powerful and unprecedented technologies to entice, engage, and ultimately ensnare youth and teens. Its motive is profit, and in seeking to maximize its financial gains, Meta has repeatedly misled the public about the substantial dangers of its social media platforms,” the complaint reads. “It has concealed the ways in which these platforms exploit and manipulate its most vulnerable consumers: teenagers and children.”

In a statement, New York Attorney General Letitia James blamed Meta and similar social media companies for the record levels of poor mental health in children and teenagers. “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,” she added.

“Meta has been harming our children and teens, cultivating addiction to boost corporate profits,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. “With today’s lawsuit, we are drawing the line.” Washington D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb added, “They’re the worst of the worst when it comes to using technology to addict teenagers to social media, all in the furtherance of putting profits over people.”

Meta responded to the suit with a statement, stating that the company also 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.” The statement continued, “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.”

Elsewhere in tech, Instagram is exploring a verified users feed.

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