TECHNOLOGY

State attorneys general go after Meta claiming platforms are harming youth

Oct 24, 2023, 1:43 PM | Updated: 1:50 pm

Meta...

Meta. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

(Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Dozens of U.S. states, including Washington, are suing Meta Platforms claiming they harm young people and contribute to the youth mental health crisis by knowingly and deliberately designing features on Instagram and Facebook that addict children to its platforms.

“Meta is ignoring the risks that Facebook and Instagram posed to kids — and exploiting them for financial gain,” Washington State Attorney General Ferguson said in a statement. “My office is committed to protecting the mental health of Washington youth.”

The lawsuit filed by 33 states in federal court in California, claims that Meta routinely collects data on children under 13 without their parents’ consent, in violation of federal law. In addition, nine attorneys general are filing lawsuits in their respective areas, bringing the total number of states taking action to 41 and Washington, D.C.

“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,” Meta said in a statement.

“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 says. “It has concealed the ways in which these platforms exploit and manipulate its most vulnerable consumers: teenagers and children.”

The suits seek financial damages and restitution and an end to Meta’s practices that are in violation of the law.

“The heart of Meta’s business model is to monitor what users view and then provide them more of the same, so they become hooked and stay on its platforms longer,” Tapia said. “As users go deeper into a ‘rabbit hole,’ they are fed even more information that reinforces their beliefs while simultaneously being shielded from opposing viewpoints. This aspect of their business even has a name in common usage: ‘the echo chamber effect.'”

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.”

Technology

Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-Va., uses an AI program on her iPad at her home in Leesburg, Va., Friday, J...

Associated Press

A neurological disorder stole her voice. Jennifer Wexton takes it back on the House floor.

When Jennifer Wexton rises Thursday to speak on the House floor, something she has done countless times before, the congresswoman will be using a voice she thought was gone forever. After a rare neurological disorder robbed her of her ability to speak clearly, Wexton has been given her voice back with the help of a […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Phone lines down in multiple courts across California after ransomware attack

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Several courts across California lost their phone lines this week after a ransomware attack targeting the state’s largest trial court in Los Angeles County. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County hosts phone servers for courts in Shasta, Inyo, San Luis Obispo, Stanislaus and Colusa counties, according to Melissa Fowler Bradley, […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Appeals judges rule against fund used to provide phone services for rural and low-income people

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Calling it a “misbegotten tax,” a federal appeals court in New Orleans ruled Wednesday that a method the Federal Communications Commission uses to fund telephone service for rural and low-income people and broadband services for schools and libraries is unconstitutional. The immediate implications of the 9-7 ruling by the 5th U.S. […]

10 hours ago

FILE - A Meta Portal Go is displayed during a preview of the Meta Store in Burlingame, Calif., on M...

Associated Press

Meta takes down thousands of Facebook accounts running sextortion scams from Nigeria

Meta says it has taken down about 63,000 Facebook accounts in Nigeria that were engaging in financial sextortion scams — along with groups and pages that were trying to organize, recruit and train new scammers. Sexual extortion, or sextortion, involves persuading a person to send explicit photos online and then threatening to make the images […]

17 hours ago

FILE - The Federal Trade Commission building is seen, Jan. 28, 2015, in Washington. The Federal Tra...

Associated Press

FTC orders 8 companies to provide information on ‘surveillance pricing’ practices

NEW YORK (AP) — The Federal Trade Commission has ordered information from eight companies that the agency says offer products and services that use personal data to set prices based on a shopper’s individual characteristics. In a Tuesday announcement, the FTC said it was seeking to better understand the “opaque market” of “surveillance pricing” products […]

1 day ago

Associated Press

Cyber security startup Wiz reportedly rejects $23 billion acquisition proposal from Google

NEW YORK (AP) — Wiz has rejected a reported $23 billion acquisition proposal from Google parent Alphabet — as the cybersecurity startup pivots back to a previously-planned initial public offering, according to a company memo seen by CNBC and others. That ends the prospect of what would’ve been the most expensive acquisition in Google’s 25-year […]

2 days ago

State attorneys general go after Meta claiming platforms are harming youth