More than 30 states have filed a lawsuit against Instagram and its parent company, Meta, accusing them of misleading the public about the dangers of social media. The lawsuit, filed by 33 states, claims that Meta's social media platforms have exploited and manipulated vulnerable consumers, particularly teenagers and children, leading to damage to their mental and physical health. The states allege that Meta violated laws such as the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, California's False Advertising Law, and California's Unfair Competition Law. In addition, eight attorneys general are filing their own lawsuits against Meta in their respective state courts.
The lawsuit follows an investigation conducted by California's attorney general, Rob Bonta, in 2021. Bonta stated that Meta has been harming children and teens, fostering addiction to boost corporate profits. With the lawsuit, Bonta emphasizes the need to protect children and holds Meta accountable. He also commends the collaboration of fellow state attorneys general in standing up for children's rights.
According to the lawsuit, Meta developed a business model that aimed to increase young people's time on social media and used harmful and manipulative features to retain their engagement. Despite research indicating that using Meta's platforms can lead to depression, anxiety, and insomnia, the lawsuit alleges that Meta published misleading reports and continued to promote its platforms to young people.
The lawsuit further claims that Meta's social media platforms are addictive to children and that the company employs tactics like dopamine-manipulating recommendation algorithms, social comparison features, audiovisual and haptic alerts, and visual filter features that promote body dysmorphia among young users.
The 33 states involved in 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.