Attorney General Targets Meta With Lawsuit

( – A Republican attorney general joined efforts with several of his peers across the country to sue Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, for targeting and purposefully addicting adolescents and teenagers to their platforms. They allege Meta gave false assurances that its social media outlets were safe for the younger audience.

Virginia Attorney General Jason S. Miyares shared a news release on October 24 announcing the move. The official said that he, along with attorneys general from 33 other states, joined in a federal complaint against Meta over the damage they allege the company has knowingly and willfully caused younger individuals. He points to articles by The Wall Street Journal and BBC News highlighting the addictive nature of its social media platforms as well as the company’s tactics to appeal specifically to tweens and teens.

The 233-page complaint, which mainly targets Instagram for its infinitely scrolling platform and other aspects of its algorithms, accuses Meta of harming young people’s mental health and profiting from the addictive nature of its website. It alleges the company has targeted the younger age groups specifically to improve income, distribute ads, and prolong the amount of time that the audience spent when they visited the social media site. The document adds that Meta falsely insisted its websites were safe and designed to support users’ emotional well-being. Instead, the platform has reportedly triggered depression, disrupted sleep, and caused body dysmorphia and eating disorders in many of its younger visitors.

Miyares and his peers also accuse Meta of knowingly allowing children younger than 13 years to have and use accounts. Even more, they claim the company designed Instagram to appeal to children, pointing to the millions of underage users as proof positive that the company is targeting them. It notes a Meta advertisement the company published on YouTube in October 2021, which includes images of multiple teenagers, as well as ads from PBS Kids and Minion Rush (featuring cartoon characters from the children’s animated feature “Minions”).

Attorneys general from seven other states as well as Washington, DC, are filing similar, independent lawsuits against Meta in their state courts.

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