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Dozens of US States sue Instagram for its contribution to depression, others 

Dozens of US states are suing Meta platforms and Instagram, accusing them of contributing to a mental health crisis among the youth through the addictive use of their social media platforms, according to information from Reuters.

The complaint was filed today at the Oakland California Federal Court. 33 states in America said that Meta, the company that operates Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, has repeatedly misled the public about the potential dangers of its platforms and knowingly initiated young children and teenagers into addictive and compulsive use of social media.

The lawsuit alleges that Meta aims to ensure young people spend as much time as possible on its social media platforms despite knowing that teenage brains are susceptible to the need for approval and seek validation in the form of “likes” from other users about their content.

This lawsuit would be the latest of the strings of legal actions against social media companies on behalf of young children and teenagers. TikTok and YouTube are also subjects of lawsuits on behalf of children and teens on the addictiveness of social media.

What the Complaint Says: 

  • “Research has shown that young people’s use of Meta platforms is associated with depression, anxiety, insomnia, interference with education and daily life, and many other negative outcomes.”
  • “Meta has harnessed powerful and unprecedented technologies to entice, engage, and ultimately ensare youths and teens.”
  • “Its motive is profit.”
  • “As recently as 2020, Meta continued to design its platforms to manipulate dopamine responses in its young users to maximise time spent on its platforms. Meta did not disclose that its algorithms were designed to capitalise on young users’ dopamine responses and create an addictive cycle of engagement.”

 More allegations  

  • The lawsuit alleges that Meta violated a law banning data collection of children under 13 years old.
  • It accuses Meta of expanding harmful practices into virtual reality including WhatsApp and Messenger.
  • Seven more states are expected to file similar lawsuits while two states have filed in local courts.

Meta responded by saying that it has sought to make young people safe online.

What Meta Said:

  • “We are disappointed that instead of working productively with companies across the industry to create clear, age-appropriate standards for the many apps teenagers use, the attorneys general have chosen this path.”

Meta’s shares have slightly declined by 0.3% since the lawsuit was made public.

 

 


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