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US states team up for Meta lawsuit
Pic: Shutterstock

25 Oct 2023 / technology Print

US states team up for Meta lawsuit

A coalition of US states has filed a federal lawsuit against technology giant Meta, accusing it of “harming young people’s mental health and contributing to the youth mental-health crisis”.

The action, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, has been taken by attorneys general in 33 states. Nine other attorneys general are filing actions in their own states.

The lawsuit alleges that the company “knowingly designed and deployed harmful features on Instagram, Facebook, and its other social-media platforms that purposefully addict children and teens”.

It also alleges that Meta “routinely” collects data on children under 13 without informing parents or obtaining parental consent, in violation of federal law.

‘Incessant’ alerts

The states argue that Meta has designed features on its platforms specifically aimed at young people – including algorithms that recommend content to keep users on the platform longer, ‘likes’ and social-comparison features, and “incessant” alerts.

A statement released by New York Attorney General Leitita James said that several studies – including Meta’s own research – had shown links between young people’s use of Meta’s platforms and psychological and physical harms.

A spokesperson for Meta quoted by the BBC said that the company shared the commitment of the attorneys general to "providing teens with safe, positive experiences online", and had "already introduced over 30 tools to support teens and their families".

"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," the spokesperson added.

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