The kids are not alright. At least, that's what a new claim against Meta says, with 41 states joining various lawsuits that accuse the social media company of nefariously marketing to kids.
Meta is no stranger to controversy. From Facebook and WhatsApp scams to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the Mark Zuckerberg-led company is more than familiar with a bit of bad press.
However, this new lawsuit is one of the largest of its kind and could have a lasting impact on social media as a whole if Meta is held accountable.
Meta Sued Over Impact on Children
In a joint lawsuit signed by representatives from 33 different states, Meta is accused of using misleading marketing to encourage and foster addictive behavior in children to improve engagement on its social media platforms, which include Facebook and Instagram.
“Meta has harnessed powerful and unprecedented technologies to entice, engage, and ultimately ensnare youth and teens. Its motive is profit, and in seeking to maximize its financial gains, Meta has repeatedly misled the public about the substantial dangers of its Social Media Platforms.” – the lawsuit against Meta
On top of that, eight other states have filed separate lawsuits against Meta accusing it of the same behavior, which makes for a total of 41 out of 50 states bringing charges up against the social media company.
How Did Meta Respond?
Considering the size and scope of this lawsuit, Meta was bound to respond with its trademark brand of seemingly feigned shock, and the social media giant, of course, didn't disappoint.
“We’re disappointed that instead of working productively with companies across the industry to create clear, age-appropriate standards for the many apps teens use, the attorneys general have chosen this path.”
Meta also specified that it had made more than 30 different interface updates aimed at protecting children and creating age-appropriate standards for its many young users.
The Fight Against Social Media Addiction
While Meta may have made strides in making its social media platforms more friendly to children overall, the reality is that social media addiction continues to wreak havoc on the wellbeing of its young users.
More and more studies have started coming out that show the negative health impacts of social media on kids. Most have found that children that use social media more often are prone to depression, with suicide rates showing a notable increase since the advent of social media.
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“We refuse to allow Meta to trample on our children’s mental and physical health, all to promote its products and increase its profit. We refuse to allow the company to feign ignorance of the harm that’s causing, we refuse to let it continue business as usual.” – Rob Bonta, California Attorney General
As the primary company in the social media world, this lawsuit against Meta could shape how it and other businesses are mandate to deal with children. But given the fact that little more than fines have been levied against Meta for its nefarious actions, we'll have to wait and see if anything actually happens this time.