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Meta Faces Legal Firestorm as 33 US States Allege Harm to Youth Mental Health

  • Posted on October 25, 2023
  • Technology
  • By Top Stories
  • 123 Views

In a sweeping legal action, 33 US states, including California and New York, are accusing Meta Platforms Inc. of causing harm to young individuals and contributing to a crisis in youth mental health. The lawsuits assert that Meta knowingly and intentionally designed features on its platforms, Instagram and Facebook, that addict children.

Meta Faces Legal Firestorm as 33 US States Allege Harm to Youth Mental Health Image Source -www.rollingstone.com

In a sweeping legal action, 33 US states, including California and New York, are accusing Meta Platforms Inc. of causing harm to young individuals and contributing to a crisis in youth mental health. The lawsuits assert that Meta knowingly and intentionally designed features on its platforms, Instagram and Facebook, that addict children.

The federal lawsuit, filed in California, alleges that Meta routinely collects data from children under 13 without parental consent, violating federal law. Nine attorneys general from various states are filing additional lawsuits, bringing the total number of states involved to 41, including Washington, D.C.

The complaint argues that Meta's motivation for maximizing financial gains has led them to mislead the public about the dangers of their social media platforms, particularly to teenagers and children. The lawsuits seek financial damages, restitution, and a halt to Meta's practices in violation of the law.

New York Attorney General Letitia James stated that "Meta has profited from children's pain" by intentionally designing platforms with manipulative features, causing addiction and lowering self-esteem in children.

In response, Meta expressed its commitment to providing safe experiences for teens online, having introduced over 30 tools to support teenagers and their families. The company expressed disappointment in the legal action and emphasized the importance of working collaboratively to establish clear, age-appropriate standards.

The lawsuits stem from a thorough investigation led by a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general. They cited newspaper reports, including The Wall Street Journal's findings, based on Meta's internal research, which revealed the negative impact of Instagram on teenagers' mental health and body image.

The use of social media among teenagers is nearly universal in the US. Social media companies prohibit children under 13 from signing up, but many manage to create accounts either with or without parental consent.

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The state's complaint accuses Meta of knowingly violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act by collecting data from children without parental consent. Despite recent efforts by social platforms to address youth mental health concerns, such as implementing time limits, teenagers can often circumvent these measures.

While TikTok and Snapchat have also faced criticism for contributing to the youth mental health crisis, they are not part of the current lawsuit, which focuses exclusively on Facebook and Instagram.

The legal action against Meta underscores the growing concern over the impact of social media on youth mental health. In May, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy called for immediate action to protect children from the harms of social media.

 

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