33 States Sue Meta For Targeting Children

On Tuesday, Attorneys General from 33 distinct states declared their intention to file a lawsuit against Meta, Facebook’s parent company. They allege that the company’s conduct is aimed at children.

This legal action, endorsed by a bipartisan coalition of Attorneys General, has been initiated in California. They express concern that Mark Zuckerberg’s media conglomerate has pursued business practices that have negatively impacted the well-being of young individuals.

According to The Associated Press, the Attorneys General contend that Meta intentionally directs its efforts toward children in a way that detrimentally affects their mental well-being.

The Associated Press shared a copy of the lawsuit, which asserts that Meta unlawfully gathers personal information from children under the age of 13 through both Facebook and Instagram. This legal action maintains that the collection of this personal data is in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

In addition to various other grievances, the 233-page lawsuit contends that Meta has utilized potent and previously unparalleled technologies to attract, involve and ultimately captivate young individuals and teenagers. Furthermore, the legal action accuses the company of prioritizing profit over the well-being of children and asserts that Meta has consistently provided misleading information to the public regarding the significant risks associated with its social media platforms.

The attorneys general assert that Meta has hidden the methods by which these platforms exploit and manipulate their most susceptible users, particularly teenagers and children.

A significant portion of the lawsuit is dedicated to Instagram, which, according to the attorneys general, has been used by at least half of American teenagers, often resulting in negative effects on their mental health.

According to the allegations in the complaint, Meta employs Instagram to influence teenagers, drawing them onto the platform and encouraging them to remain through the manipulation of algorithms that shape their perceptions.

The attorneys general asserts that Instagram’s continuous “feed” mechanism entices children to spend more time on the platform, effectively “teasing” them to stay engaged.

Additionally, the platform’s “Reels” feature, akin to TikTok, is cited as a method to retain young users on their servers.

Reels comprise an endless stream of videos, carefully selected by Meta’s algorithms to cater to users’ preferences.

The lawsuit has been lodged in the Northern District of California and aims to secure penalties, restitution and a court order that compels Meta to cease its existing practices.

The lawsuit received support from Attorneys General spanning the entire nation, with officials representing states from New York to Kansas endorsing it.

A Meta spokesperson refuted the allegations made in the lawsuit, issuing a statement to NBC News on Tuesday.

Meta said in a statement, “We share 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. 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.”