State attorneys general sue Meta over Instagram’s harmful effects on teens

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A coalition of 33 state attorneys general from Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Nebraska, New Jersey, South Carolina, Wisconsin, and other states have filed lawsuits against Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, alleging that the company deliberately provided products and features that pose psychological risks to children and teen users.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in California comes two years after a whistleblower leaked internal company documents that suggested Meta knew Instagram was harmful to teen girls.

The lawsuit alleges that Meta designed and deployed features on Instagram, such as alerts and infinite scrolling, that are specifically designed to maximize engagement and keep users hooked. It also alleges that Meta falsely assured the public that these features were safe and suitable for young users.

“Meta has harnessed powerful and unprecedented technologies to entice, engage and ultimately ensnare youth and teens,” the lawsuit states. “Its motive is profit.”

Meta has denied the allegations, saying that it is committed to providing teens with safe and positive experiences online. The company says it has introduced over 30 tools to support teens and their families, and that it is working with industry partners to develop clear, age-appropriate standards for social media platforms. However, the state attorneys general argue that Meta has not done enough to protect young users. T

hey are seeking a number of remedies, including a ban on targeted advertising to users under the age of 18, changes to Instagram’s algorithm to reduce the spread of harmful content, and a requirement for Meta to disclose more information about its research on the mental health effects of its products on teens.

In addition to the federal lawsuit, attorneys general from Florida, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, and the District of Columbia also filed their own lawsuits related to the issue in state courts.

The sources for this piece include an article in Axios.

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