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Attorney General Josh Stein Takes Meta to Court for Harming Kids

For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Contact:
Nazneen Ahmed (919) 716-0060

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein and 41 other bipartisan attorneys general today sued Meta, which owns Instagram and Facebook, for allegedly designing their social media platforms to hook children and teenagers and deceiving the public by claiming that these platforms were safe and suitable for young users. Attorney General Stein is part of the executive committee of attorneys general who began investigating Meta in 2021.

“Too many kids spend hours every day on Instagram, and Meta isn’t keeping them safe,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “A whole generation of young people struggle with their health and safety because companies are trying to make an extra dollar. I am bringing this action to demand that Meta do better and not exploit our children.”

Attorney General Stein’s lawsuit alleges that Meta:

  1. Knew its platforms were harmful for children but continued to market them to young people to increase its profits.
  2. Misled the public about the dangers of social media use among children and how these apps harm kids’ physical and mental health.
  3. Knowingly collected data from users under 13 without their parental consent, in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

Public reporting and Meta’s own internal data indicate that the company created features including the infinite scroll and regular notifications to hook young users and lure them back onto the platform. The platforms are also designed to trap users in “rabbit holes,” which feed them a constant diet of harmful content that can lead to anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and, in the worst cases, self-harm or suicide. The U.S. Surgeon General has said that the negative effects of social media on youth mental health has become the “defining public health crisis of our time.”

The attorneys general are seeking injunctive and monetary relief from Meta to rectify the harms that it has caused.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Stein and a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general are also continuing to investigate TikTok for similarly promoting its platform to young people without regard for their health and well-being. That investigation remains ongoing, and states have pushed for more documents and information after TikTok failed to adequately respond to their initial discovery requests.

Attorney General Stein is joined in filing the federal lawsuit by the Attorneys General of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The Attorneys General of District of Columbia, Florida, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, and Vermont are filing lawsuits in their own states.

A copy of the complaint is available here.

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