More than 30 states, as politically diverse as California and West Virginia, filed suit in federal court against Meta. The attorneys general claim services like Facebook and Instagram harm youths and that Meta has misled the public about the risks of the services, Mashable reported.
The lawsuit’s allegations take aim at nearly every aspect of the social networks, from the core functionality of the “like” to the addictive nature of the infinite scroll to lax content moderation.
Meta is also accused of actively marketing to children under the age of 13, which contradicts both federal law and Meta’s own policies, according to Mashable.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser even compared Meta’s actions to Big Tobacco.
Meta denied the allegations and pointed to more than 30 tools it has rolled out to help teens and parents, The Verge reported.
“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,” Meta spokesperson Liza Crenshaw said in a statement.
Why it matters:
In the hyperpolarized climate that is America in 2023, getting 33 attorneys general as diverse as New York and Tennessee to agree on anything is difficult, yet they’re united here.
The lawsuit follows on the heels of a Utah suit that uses similar language of addiction to describe TikTok’s tactics in bringing girls to its platform, this time likening the algorithm to a “slot machine” rather than a cigarette.
As social networks move into their third decade of dominance, it’s clear that society is ready to see how they’ve affected us – especially those whose brains aren’t yet developed to make decisions.
If you market to young people on social media, tread lightly. Be aware that how we all use these networks could change, depending on the outcomes of these suits. Because no matter what the outcome, it’s hard to argue with this, from the lawsuit: “Over the past decade Meta has profoundly altered the psychological and social realities of a generation of young Americans.”
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