Multiple lawsuits have been filed against Meta Platforms in both federal and state courts, accusing the tech giant of causing harm to the mental health of young individuals.
State Attorneys General Take Legal Action
A news release from the office of New York Attorney General Letita James states that 32 state attorneys general have collectively filed a lawsuit in federal court in the Northern District of California. Additionally, nine other states, including Washington, D.C., have decided to initiate separate state cases against Meta Platforms, citing similar concerns.
Allegations of Harmful Design and Data Collection
The lawsuits assert that Meta knowingly created and implemented harmful features across its range of social media applications, such as Instagram and Facebook, specifically targeting addiction among children and teenagers.
Furthermore, the attorneys general argue that Meta routinely captures data from children below the age of 13 without obtaining parental consent.
Meta's Role in the Decline of Mental Health
Attorney General James expresses her view on the matter, stating, "Kids and teenagers are suffering from record levels of poor mental health and social media companies like Meta are to blame." She goes on to accuse Meta Platforms of profiting from children's distress by intentionally crafting platforms with manipulative features that foster addiction and undermine self-esteem.
Meta Responds to Attorneys General's Concerns
In response to the recent investigation by attorneys general, Meta, the parent company of social media platforms such as Facebook and TikTok, has issued a statement. A spokesperson from Meta expressed their shared commitment to providing safe and positive online experiences for teenagers. The company has already implemented over 30 tools to support teens and their families.
However, Meta expressed disappointment that instead of collaborating with industry companies to establish clear and age-appropriate standards for teen app usage, the attorneys general have chosen a different approach.
The attorneys general have raised concerns about certain features utilized by Meta that they believe contribute to addiction and harm the mental health of young people. These features include notification alerts that disrupt school hours, visual filters that alter one's appearance in photos, and algorithms designed to recommend content that keeps users engaged on the platform for longer periods.
While the investigation is ongoing, Meta has emphasized that it has been actively engaging in dialogue with the attorneys general to address their concerns and demonstrate its support for young users.
On Tuesday, Meta's stock experienced a slight decline of 0.4% to $312.65. Nonetheless, the stock has seen a remarkable surge of 160% throughout this year.