Zuckerberg Just Got Hit With Massive Lawsuit

41 states and DC sue Facebook parent company Meta, accuse it of inflicting harm on kids
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 24, 2023 11:26 AM CDT
Zuckerberg Just Got Hit With Massive Lawsuit
Mark Zuckerberg in a file photo.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

States are going after Facebook and Instagram in a big way, unleashing a legal assault that accuses the platforms of deliberately trying to makes kids addicted to the sites. In all, 41 states and the District of Columbia sued parent company Meta on Tuesday, in what amounts to "the most significant effort by state enforcers to rein in social media's impact on children's mental health," per the Washington Post. The legal action consists of a joint suit filed by 33 states in federal court in California, plus separate complaints filed by eight states and DC in federal, state, or local courts.

The joint lawsuit also accuses Meta of collecting data on children under the age of 13 without their parents' consent, which would violate federal law, reports the AP. "Kids and teenagers are suffering from record levels of poor mental health and social media companies like Meta are to blame," said New York Attorney General Letitia James. "Meta has profited from children's pain by intentionally designing its platforms with manipulative features that make children addicted to their platforms while lowering their self-esteem."

The states say Meta's algorithms are designed to hook kids on the sites, including features such as "infinite scroll," per the New York Times. "Meta has harnessed powerful and unprecedented technologies to entice, engage, and ultimately ensnare youth and teens," says the lawsuit. "Its motive is profit." The suit follows some damning investigations to that effect, including one by the Wall Street Journal on the mental health of teen girls in particular. Meta's response: "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," the company led by Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement. (More Meta stories.)

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