State attorneys general go after Meta claiming platforms are harming youth

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


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.”


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State attorneys general go after Meta claiming platforms are harming youth