A bipartisan coalition of 33 state attorneys general has sued Meta, accusing the company of intentionally designing harmful features on Instagram and Facebook. According to the lawsuit, the company knowingly addicted many young users to overuse these apps.
This federal lawsuit results from an extensive investigation into Meta’s social media platforms that has been ongoing for nearly two years. Among the 33 states involved are Arizona, California, and Colorado. In addition, nine other states, like Texas, Florida, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia, are launching their own state lawsuits against Meta. Maryland and Seattle schools have filed lawsuits against the social media giant, too, and New York lawmakers have proposed stricter rules for kids on social media.
The attorneys claim that Meta has a scheme exploiting young users for profit. It includes “monetizing young users’ attention through data harvesting and targeted advertising,” “specifically targeting young users,” and “deploying features to capture young users’ attention and prolong their time on its social media platforms.”
A central argument of the lawsuit is that Meta has failed to adhere to The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA). As per COPPA regulations, media corporations are prohibited from collecting data from children below 13 years of age without their parents’ consent. What’s more, children under 13 are technically not allowed to register on Instagram and Facebook in the first place. The attorneys general add that both Mark Zuckerberg and Meta misled the public concerning their compliance with COPPA. Intriguingly, research related to the case reveals that 40% of children between 9 and 12 are daily users of Instagram.
“Our bipartisan investigation has arrived at a solemn conclusion: Meta has been harming our children and teens, cultivating addiction to boost corporate profits,” said California Attorney General Bonta in a statement on Tuesday. “With today’s lawsuit, we are drawing the line. We must protect our children, and we will not back down from this fight.”