Details in lawsuit 33 US states allege Meta knew it was harming children

27/11/2023 | The Guardian

Unseen details from the recently unsealed legal complaint filed in October by the attorneys general for 33 US states, including California and New York, allege that Instagram and Facebook parent company Meta intentionally designed its platforms to addict children and knowingly allowed underage users to hold accounts. 

The lawsuit claims internal company documents prove the social media company knew about millions of complaints concerning underage users on Instagram. The complaint alleges that the large number of underage users was an "open secret" and that Meta only disabled a small fraction of those accounts. The complaint also highlights the company received over 402,000 reports of under-13 users on Instagram in 2021 but only disabled 164,000 accounts that year, and at times, Meta has a backlog of up to 2.5 million accounts of younger children awaiting action.

Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that Meta knowingly created addictive and harmful products for children. The complaint cites company documents describing several Meta officials acknowledging that the products were designed to exploit shortcomings in youthful psychology. It cites an example from a May 2020 presentation called “teen fundamentals”, which reveals specific vulnerabilities of the young brain that could be exploited by product development. 

In a statement, Meta said the complaint misrepresents its decade-long work to make the online experience safe for children and teenagers.

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