- 33 U.S. states, including California and New York, have filed a lawsuit against Meta over its alleged role in the youth mental health crisis.
- The lawsuit accuses Meta of violating federal children’s online privacy and state consumer protection laws.
- Research indicates a link between increased usage of social media platforms like those owned by Meta and rising mental health issues in young people.
Meta, the tech giant behind Instagram and other social media platforms, is facing a significant legal challenge.
A coalition of 33 states has taken the corporation to court, accusing it of playing a sinister role in the ongoing mental health crisis among America’s youth.
According to the extensive 233-page complaint lodged in the Northern District of California federal court, “Meta has harnessed powerful and unprecedented technologies to entice, engage, and ultimately ensnare youth and teens.”
The document further alleges a profit-driven motive behind the tech giant’s actions.
This move stems from growing concerns about Meta’s alleged misdirection on the risks posed by its platforms. The conglomerate is accused of not being transparent about the dangers its platforms can pose to the most susceptible users – our children and teenagers. These platforms are allegedly designed to be so addictive that they transform young users into compulsive social media consumers.
Disturbingly, the states referenced research that underscores the negative impacts of Meta’s platforms on children. The data points to a troubling association between these platforms and “depression, anxiety, insomnia, interference with education and daily life, and many other negative outcomes.”
The U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has not been silent on this issue. In May, Murthy spotlighted the nexus between prolonged social media use and the alarming mental health trend among the nation’s youth.
“I’m issuing this advisory because we’re in the middle of a youth mental health crisis, and I’m concerned that social media is contributing to the harms that kids are experiencing,” Murthy communicated to The Hill.
Murthy also pushed back against those who might say it’s solely the parents’ duty to regulate their children’s online exposure.
Pointing to the unprecedented challenges today’s parents face, he said, “It’s an unreasonable expectation because prior generations never had to experience and manage the rapidly evolving technology that fundamentally changed how kids thought about themselves, how they thought about their friendships, and how they saw the world.”
But Meta is not silently accepting these allegations. In a defensive response, the company conveyed that it shares “the attorneys general’s commitment to providing teens with safe, positive experiences online, and have already introduced over 30 tools to support teens and their families.”
The company expressed disappointment with the states’ decision, saying, “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.”
It’s not just these 33 states turning the legal screws on Meta. Eight other attorneys general and the District of Columbia are reportedly gearing up for separate lawsuits against the company, swelling the count to 42 states.
The stakes are high. If Meta loses, it could be staring down the barrel of hefty fines and could be mandated to overhaul its advertising strategies and platform designs.
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