Meta Sued By 33 States Over Harmful Targeting Of Children

Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta is under fire from 33 state attorneys general. The coalition announced on Tuesday that it is suing the Facebook and Instagram parent for targeting children despite knowing the physical and mental damage social media can cause.

Democrats and Republicans alike lined up to join the lawsuit, which was filed in California. The group expressed concern that the Democratic mega donor engaged in harmful business practices.

The AGs alleged that Meta knowingly tailored its products to attract the very young while realizing their use may cause mental damage to the most vulnerable.

Both Facebook and Instagram are accused of harvesting personal data from children under 13. This would violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

Complaints include the assertion that the tech giant “repeatedly misled the public about the substantial dangers of its social media platforms.” The suit further stated that Meta took advantage of new technologies to “entice, engage and ultimately ensnare youth and teens.”

The lawsuit alleged that Instagram knew its use could lead to depression, anxiety and insomnia among children. The consortium of states accused Meta of spurring a mental health crisis through instigating compulsive social media addiction.

In California federal court, the plaintiffs clearly asserted that the “motive is profit.”

Meta, the states charged, lured children at an age advertisers crave to become reliant on their products and continue as they get older. The company faces civil penalties ranging from $1,000 to $50,000 per violation of state laws.

Considering the tens of millions of children and teenagers using social media platforms, the amount could quickly become staggering.

Meta expressed its “disappointment” with the lawsuit. It said, “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.”

More lawsuits against Meta are expected this week from eight other states and Washington, D.C. They join a growing wave of litigation against social media companies by states worried about negative effects of their platforms on young people.

Besides Meta, TikTok parent ByteDance and Google, which owns YouTube, face scores of lawsuits from entities representing children and school districts.