Meta sued by 33 US states for damaging children's mental health

24/10/2023 | The Guardian

The attorneys general for 33 US states, including California and New York, have filed a lawsuit against Meta Platforms Inc. for causing harm to young people and adding to the youth mental health crisis. The accusation is that Meta knowingly and purposefully designed features on Facebook and Instagram that make children addicted to its platforms. According to the lawsuit filed in a federal court in California, Meta regularly collects data on children under 13 without parental permission and in violation of federal law. An additional nine attorneys general are filing lawsuits in their respective states, bringing the total number of states taking action to 41 and Washington, D.C.

The complaint says, "Meta has harnessed powerful and unprecedented technologies to entice, engage, and ultimately ensnare youth and teens. Its motive is profit, and in seeking to maximise its financial gains, Meta has repeatedly misled the public about the substantial dangers of its social media platforms. It has concealed the ways in which these platforms exploit and manipulate its most vulnerable consumers: teenagers and children."

The lawsuits seek financial damages and restitution and aim to stop Meta's illegal practices.

In a statement, Meta responded saying that it seeks to make teens safe online. A spokesperson for the company said, "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."

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