42 Attorneys General Sue Meta, Accusing Facebook and Instagram of Addiction and Child Targeting

42 Attorneys General Sue Meta | Mr. Business Magazine

In a significant legal challenge to Meta, a bipartisan group of 42 attorneys general has filed a lawsuit, claiming that features on Meta’s Facebook and Instagram platforms are addictive and specifically target children and teenagers. This action underscores the growing concern among state law enforcers regarding the protection of young users from online harm.

The legal battle against Meta has expanded to multiple districts, with attorneys general from 33 states launching a federal suit in the Northern District of California. Additionally, nine more attorneys general are filing lawsuits in their respective states. States joining the federal suit include New York, California, Colorado, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Washington, and Wisconsin.

This united front of attorneys general, from both sides of the political spectrum, highlights the urgency of addressing the issue at hand. The attorneys general recognize the need to safeguard the well-being of young individuals in an era marked by polarization and intense disagreements.

Child Targeting a National Issue?

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser emphasized the gravity of the situation, acknowledging that the case may not be resolved swiftly but remains a top national priority. In the pursuit of their mission, the states are demanding an end to what they perceive as harmful practices by Meta, in addition to penalties and restitution.

The lawsuit alleges that Meta intentionally designed Facebook and Instagram to engage young users for prolonged periods by employing algorithms, alerts, notifications, and infinite scrolling features. Furthermore, the company is accused of incorporating elements that negatively affect teenagers’ mental health, such as the “likes” feature and photo filters that promote social comparison and body dysmorphia.

The suit also asserts that Meta violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by collecting personal data from users under the age of 13 without parental consent.

The attorneys general contend that Meta was well aware of the detrimental consequences of its design on young users, pointing to internal research documents that have been leaked. The documents revealed Meta’s awareness of the serious harms associated with young users’ time spent on its platforms, which it allegedly concealed from the public.

42 attorneys general suing Meta over addictive features targeting kids

Meta not Safe for Females:

Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee, brought this issue to the forefront when she leaked internal documents in 2021, sparking outrage among lawmakers and parents. One set of documents disclosed that Instagram exacerbated negative body image issues for some teen girls. In response to the revelations, Instagram announced efforts to reduce dwell time on negative topics.

District of Columbia Attorney General Brian Schwalb, who filed an individual suit against Meta, argued that Meta should have warned users about the potential risks and addictive nature of its products before they began using them. The legal action against Meta reflects a growing consensus among state attorneys general that the company’s practices warrant close scrutiny and regulation.

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