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Missouri AG joins lawsuit over Facebook, Instagram

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, along with attorneys general of 32 other states, on Tuesday sued Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram.

The federal lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges that Meta falsely assured the public that its platforms were safe for children and youth, even while knowing they were addictive and harmful to children’s mental health. Plaintiffs allege that Meta’s business practices violate state consumer protection laws and the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, and exacerbate what the U.S. Surgeon General has called a “youth mental health crisis.”

“The last thing we need is for big tech giants to make a profit at the expense of our children’s health,” Bailey said. “We will use every legal tool at our disposal to protect children across the nation.”

The complaint also alleges that Meta knew that young users, including children under 13, are active on the platforms, and knowingly collected data from these users without parental consent and targeted them.

The 233-page complaint, much of it drawn from confidential proprietary material, also includes public sources and details that former Meta employees have released. For example, the platform relies upon near-constant alerts and infinite scrolling, all designed with the goal of addicting young people, the complaint alleges. Those features harm youth’s physical and mental health, depriving them of sleep and interfering with their education, according to the complaint.

Meta’s platform algorithms, the lawsuit says, push users into descending “rabbit holes,” with the objective of keeping users on the platform for long periods. Meta also allegedly used features such as infinite scroll and near-constant alerts in a concerted effort to hold young users’ attention. Such manipulative tactics entice teens and tweens to continually return to the platforms. Instead of disclosing the harm and making meaningful changes to minimize it, Meta publicly advertised their platforms as safe for young users.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice

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