Meta Faces Accusations Over Children’s Social Media Addiction

Several US states have accused Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, of deliberately designing its social media platforms to be addictive to young users. This serious accusation highlights concerns over the mental health of young people, directly linking it to social media usage.

Several attorneys general, spanning states from California to New York, are taking legal action against Meta. They accuse the company of prioritising its earnings over the safety and mental health of young users. “Children are particularly susceptible to addictive technologies, and Meta has exploited these vulnerabilities,” stated Brian L. Schwalb, Washington D.C.’s attorney general.

Violation of Privacy Laws

The lawsuits go further, alleging that Meta violates federal law by collecting data on children under 13 without parental consent. This illegal action is part of a broader strategy to keep young users engaged on their platforms, regardless of the negative consequences on their mental health.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta expressed strong criticism: “Meta has been harming our children and teens, cultivating addiction to boost corporate profits. With today’s lawsuit, we are drawing the line.”

Failed Attempts at Resolution

Before these legal actions, there were unsuccessful talks to settle the disputes, as reported by sources close to the matter. The states decided to take their accusations to court, believing that a legal battle is necessary to bring about change in Meta’s operations, especially concerning children’s mental health.


Whistleblower’s Revelations

The situation gained attention following revelations from Frances Haugen, a former Meta employee, who leaked documents showing that Instagram worsened suicidal thoughts and eating disorders among teenage girls. Her disclosures have played a role in the states’ decision to sue, as these internal documents suggest that Meta was aware of these issues yet chose not to act responsibly.

In response to the lawsuits, Meta defended itself, expressing disappointment with the legal approach taken by the attorneys general. The company claims to have introduced more than 30 tools aimed at safeguarding teens online. “We share the attorneys general’s commitment to providing teens with safe, positive experiences online,” Meta responded in a statement.

Fines and Previous Settlements

Social media companies facing lawsuits for not handling children’s data properly is nothing new. For example, Google’s YouTube had to give away $170 million after people accused it of illegally collecting information from young users. This history puts more pressure on social media firms to alter their rules.

The lawsuits against Meta represent public worries regarding the influence of social media on youth. With almost all teens aged 13 to 17 using social media platforms, and many admitting to constant use, the potential for harm is extensive. These platforms have rules barring children under 13, but the effectiveness of these restrictions is in serious doubt as kids find easy workarounds.

Exclusive Focus on Meta

For now, the legal spotlight is on Meta, with authorities holding it up as the prime example of a company misusing technology to keep teenagers hooked for financial gain. While other platforms have faced criticism, officials like Brian Schwalb concentrate on Facebook and Instagram. “They’re the worst of the worst when it comes to using technology to addict teenagers to social media,” he said.

US Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, is publicly urging for quick protective steps to be taken for children on social media. This urgent call stresses the need to tackle these problems quickly to stop more damage to the mental and emotional well-being of the young.

Awaiting Court Decisions

As the cases goes on, all eyes will be on the courts to see how they handle these accusations against Meta. The outcomes could set new standards for how social media platforms operate, especially regarding their youngest and most vulnerable users.