Meta’s Instagram is getting sued by a coalition of 33 states for intentionally damaging children’s mental health, causing depression, anxiety, insomnia using their algorithms. The lawsuit accusing the tech giant of exploiting young users for profit and exposing them to harmful content

Meta Platforms, the parent company of social media giants Instagram and Facebook, has found itself embroiled in a rather tricky legal battle. On Tuesday, California, along with a coalition of over 30 states, filed a lawsuit accusing the tech giant of exploiting young users for profit and exposing them to harmful content. The lawsuit was formally submitted in a federal court situated in California.

The lawsuit contends that Meta has harnessed unprecedented technologies to lure, engage, and effectively ensnare young individuals, particularly youth and teenagers.

Charges against Meta
The states argue that the underlying motive behind these actions is driven by profit, and in pursuit of maximizing financial gains, Meta has consistently misled the public about the substantial dangers associated with its social media platforms.

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Meta Platforms, has asserted its commitment to ensuring the online safety of young users and their families. To this end, the company has introduced more than 30 tools aimed at supporting these objectives.

In response to the lawsuit, Meta Platforms issued a statement expressing its disappointment in the approach taken by the attorneys general. The company expressed its preference for collaborative efforts within the industry to establish clear, age-appropriate standards for the multitude of apps utilized by teenagers.

Whistleblower’s testimony, the backbone of the lawsuit
This lawsuit stems from a series of concerns that have surfaced over the past year, largely triggered by former Meta employee Frances Haugen, who emerged as a whistleblower in 2021. Haugen’s allegations pointed to Meta knowingly targeting vulnerable young users to enhance its profits.

Notably, Haugen revealed an internal study conducted on Instagram, which indicated that many adolescent girls using the platform were grappling with depression and anxiety, particularly concerning body-image issues.

In this recent lawsuit, Haugen’s testimony to Congress has been included as pertinent evidence. Furthermore, the legal action underscores the existence of child-oriented accounts on both Facebook and Instagram, featuring content related to toys like Hot Wheels and Lego, as well as television programs such as PAW Patrol and Bluey.

Collecting data from children
While users under the age of 13 are mandated to secure parental consent to create an account on Facebook and Instagram, the lawsuit alleges that Meta Platforms has been collecting personal information about underage users who have not received the required parental authorization.

It’s noteworthy that Meta Platforms Inc. is not the only tech company facing legal action concerning the impact of social media on the mental health of adolescents and young adults.

Competitors such as Snap, TikTok, and Google are similarly contending with numerous lawsuits, with claimants arguing that these platforms are responsible for issues like anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and sleep disturbances among young users ensnared by the allure of social media.