33 States Take Legal Action Against Meta

Attorneys general from 33 U.S. states, including California, Illinois and New York, have banded together to file a lawsuit against Meta and its Instagram platform. The lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of California federal court, alleges that Meta, a multinational technology conglomerate, has contributed to the mental health crisis among American youth by fostering addiction to its products.

The 233-page complaint accuses Meta of violating federal children’s online privacy and state consumer protection laws. It contends that the Facebook and Instagram parent company has employed powerful and unprecedented technologies to captivate and ensnare young people, with profit as its primary motive.

As the lawsuit states, “Meta has harnessed powerful and unprecedented technologies to entice, engage and ultimately ensnare youth and teens. Its motive is profit.”

One of the central claims of the lawsuit is that Meta has misled the public about the significant risks associated with its social media platforms. According to the complaint, the company concealed its practices aimed at turning teenagers and children into addicted and compulsive social media users. 

The states back up their claims by referencing research that links children’s use of Meta platforms to negative outcomes such as depression, insomnia, anxiety, and disruptions in education and daily life.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has previously issued an advisory, highlighting a connection between social media usage and the nation’s ongoing mental health crisis among young people. 

Murthy expressed his concern, stating, “I’m issuing this advisory because we’re in the middle of a youth mental health crisis, and I’m concerned that social media is contributing to the harms that kids are experiencing.”

As Murthy noted, prior generations did not have to navigate the rapid evolution of technology that has fundamentally changed how children perceive themselves, their friendships, and the world around them.

Meta has responded to the lawsuit, emphasizing its commitment to providing teenagers with safe and positive online experiences. The company stated that it has already introduced “over 30 tools to support teens and their families.” However, it expressed disappointment that instead of collaborating with industry companies to establish clear, age-appropriate standards for the apps teenagers use, the attorneys general have chosen a legal path.

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