Thirty-three U.S. states are suing Meta Platforms Inc., accusing it of harming the mental health of young people through the addictive nature of its social media platforms.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court in Oakland, California, alleges that Meta knowingly installed addictive features on its social media platforms, Instagram and Facebook, and has collected data from children under the age of 13, without their parents’ consent. , violating federal law.
“Research has shown that youth use of Meta social media platforms is associated with depression, anxiety, insomnia, interference with education and daily life, and numerous other negative outcomes,” the complaint says.
The filing comes after Meta’s own investigation in 2021 found that the company was aware of the harm Instagram can cause to teenagers, especially girls.
In the 2021 Meta study, 13.5% of teen girls said Instagram worsens suicidal thoughts and 17% of them said it worsens eating disorders.
Meta responded to the lawsuit by saying it “has already introduced more than 30 tools to support teens and their families.”
“We are disappointed that instead of working productively with companies across the industry to create clear, age-appropriate standards for the many apps teens use, attorneys general have chosen this path,” the company added.
Meta is one of many social media companies facing criticism and legal action. Lawsuits have also been filed against ByteDance’s TikTok and Google’s YouTube.
There are measures to protect children on social media, but they are often easily circumvented, such as a federal law that prohibits children under 13 from creating accounts.
The dangers of social media for children have been highlighted by US Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy, who said the effects of social media require “immediate action to protect children now”.
In addition to the 33 states that sued, nine other state attorneys general are expected to join and file similar lawsuits.
(Some of the information contained in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters)