More than 30 states are suing Instagram and its parent company, Meta, for misleading the public about the dangers of social media.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday by 33 states, alleges that Meta’s social media platforms “exploit and manipulate its most vulnerable consumers: teenagers and children” and has caused damage to young people’s mental and physical health. The lawsuit also alleges that Meta broke laws, like the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which protects kids’ online privacy, California’s False Advertising Law, which doesn’t allow false and misleading ads, and California’s Unfair Competition Law. Eight other attorneys general are filing lawsuits against Meta in their own state courts.
The lawsuit comes after an investigation led by Rob Bonta, California’s attorney general, in 2021.
“Our bipartisan investigation has arrived at a solemn conclusion: Meta has been harming our children and teens, cultivating addiction to boost corporate profits,” Bonta said in a news release. “With today’s lawsuit, we are drawing the line. We must protect our children and we will not back down from this fight. I am grateful for the collaboration of my fellow state attorneys general in standing up for our children and holding Meta accountable.”
Meta developed a business model that increased young people’s time on social media, according to the lawsuit. Then it used “harmful and psychologically manipulative product features” to keep young people using the platforms. Despite the research that shows using Meta’s platforms can cause depression, anxiety and insomnia, Meta published misleading reports and continued to promote its platforms to young people, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also states that the social media platforms are addicting to children and that Meta uses tactics, like “dopamine-manipulating recommendation algorithms, “social comparison features,” “audiovisual and haptic alerts,” and “visual filter features known to promote young users’ body dysmorphia.”
The 33 states filing the lawsuit are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.