Meta, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram, was accused by dozens of US states this week of making money “from children’s pain,” harming their mental health and lying about how safe its platforms are.
A joint complaint filed in a federal court in California claimed that “Meta had consistently deceived the public about the serious risks associated with its social media platforms in an effort to maximize its financial benefits.”
Meta is being sued by more than 40 states, though some chose to file in their own courts instead of joining the federal case.
The lawsuit said that Meta took advantage of young users by making a business plan that encourages them to spend as much time as possible on the platform, even if it’s bad for their health.
Letitia James, the attorney general of New York, said in a statement that the lawsuit had been filed because “social media giants such as Meta are to blame for the high rates of mental health problems among kids and teens.”
“Meta has made money off of children’s pain by crafting its platforms with deceptive features that keep kids hooked on them and lower their self-esteem.”
Meta is being sued for dishonest and illegal behavior that hurts young people who are vulnerable for the purpose of making money.
According to James, the lawsuit asks the federal court to tell Meta to stop being dishonest and pay big fines and compensation.
“Social media firms, like Meta, have made a national youth mental health crisis worse, and they need to be held responsible,” James said.
At the beginning of the year, Vivek Murthy, the US Surgeon General, called for action to make sure that social media sites are not harmful to young people who use them.
“A national youth mental health crisis is happening right now,” and Murthy said in a warning, “I am worried that social media is a big part of that crisis. It’s something we need to fix right away.”
Some states have rules that say teens and young adults can’t use social media without their parent’s permission.
Meta expressed its “disappointment” with the lawsuit and claimed that the states were not collaborating with the various social media platforms to develop guidelines that were considered age-appropriate.