Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger, was sued by 33 states in the U.S., led by Colorado and California. The states allege that Meta knowingly exploited features on Instagram and Facebook to draw children to its platforms, violating consumer protection laws and the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The lawsuit accuses Meta of having a business model that prioritizes maximizing user attention. To make this model profitable, Meta is alleged to have deployed harmful and “psychologically manipulative product features” while misrepresenting their safety for young users. The states also point out that despite being aware of the dangers, Meta refused to abandon its use of these “known harmful features”. The company counters the states’ allegations, arguing that it has been earnestly working towards creating a safer environment for teenagers.
The investigation into Meta began a few years ago, due to increasing public concern over cyberbullying and teen mental health issues. An announcement about “Instagram Kids” in early 2021 sparked broad criticism. The lawsuit was also motivated by revelations from a former Facebook employee who exposed the company’s awareness of potential mental health risks associated with its platforms.
Click here to read the complaint against Meta Platforms.
*Image generated by DALL·E 3