Meta faces lawsuit filed by 43 states after claims of addiction in children

A coalition of 43 state attorneys general has jointly filed a lawsuit against Meta, the parent company of Facebook. Their claim accuses the social media giant of intentionally encouraging addiction among younger users on its platforms.

With the age at which children are allowed their own social media accounts getting lower each year, child psychologists and other professionals have continuously raised concerns about the effects it could be having on their emotional well-being and privacy. 

Meta has faced numerous lawsuits in recent years. However, what makes this one significant is the bipartisan nature of the complaint – it involves both Republicans and Democrats. This suggests that concerns about the issue transcend political party lines.

The lawsuit asserts that Meta was well aware of the detrimental impact its platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, had on young people. 

Instead of taking proactive measures to mitigate these negative effects, the state officials argue that Meta engaged in a campaign of deceiving the public regarding the harm associated with using its platform. They also claim the company is well aware of the psychological and health damages experienced by young users addicted to their platforms.

Furthermore, the complaint alleges that Meta was aware of the presence of young users, even those under 13, on their platforms, and knowingly gathered data from these users without obtaining proper parental consent.

As well as this, the lawsuit says that Meta: 

  • Has successfully created and implemented a business strategy that aims to maximise the time younger users spend on the platform. 
  • Uses psychologically manipulative platform features while simultaneously misrepresenting the safety of these features.
  • Published reports that purported to show significantly lower rates of harm to users than were actually the case.
  • Refuses to address the evident connection between its platforms and harm to young users, all the while continuing to hide and downplay the adverse effects of its platforms.

Meta issued a statement denying the allegations. The company said: “We share the attorneys general’s commitment to providing teens with safe, positive experiences online, and have already introduced more than 30 tools to support teens and their families. 

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.”

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