Georgia Joins Bipartisan Coalition In Filing Suit Against Meta For Harmful Effects On Children

On Tuesday, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced that Georgia would be joining a bipartisan coalition of 33 state attorneys general in filing suit against Meta in federal court alleging that the company knowingly designed and deployed harmful features on Instagram and other social media platforms that intentionally addict children and teens. The coalition also alleges that Meta falsely assured the public that these features are safe for young users.

“We have become increasingly concerned with Meta possibly marketing to children despite knowing the risks posed to their mental health and well-being,” said Carr. “We will not allow our state’s youngest citizens to be the targets of deceptive social media tactics, and we’re working diligently to address this dangerous and alarming trend. Our consumer protection laws are put in place to protect people from misleading and potentially harmful actions, which includes the exploitation of Georgia’s youth.”

According to a press release from Carr’s office, the “attorneys general assert that Meta’s business practices violate state consumer protection laws and the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). These practices have harmed and continue to harm the physical and mental health of children and teens and have fueled what the U.S. Surgeon General has deemed a ‘youth mental health crisis’ which has ended lives, devastated families, and damaged the potential of a generation of young people.”

“The federal complaint, joined by 33 states and filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges that Meta knew of the harmful impact of its platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, on young people. Instead of taking steps to mitigate these risks, it misled the public and concealed the extent of the psychological and health harms suffered by children and teens addicted to using its platforms. The complaint further alleges that Meta knew that young users, including those under 13, were active on the platforms and knowingly collected data from these users without parental consent. It targeted these young users noting, as reported in a 2021 Wall Street Journal article, that such a user base was ‘valuable, but untapped,’” the press release added. 

The complaint largely relies on confidential material that has not yet been made available to the public. However, “publicly available sources, including those previously released by former Meta employees, detail that Meta profited by purposely making its platforms addictive to children and teens. Its platform algorithms push users into descending ‘rabbit holes’ in an effort to maximize engagement. Features like infinite scroll and near-constant alerts were created with the express goal of hooking young users. These manipulative tactics continually lure children and teens back onto the platform. As Aza Raskin, the original developer of the infinite scroll concept, noted to the BBC about the feature’s addictive qualities: ‘If you don’t give your brain time to catch up with your impulses… you just keep scrolling,’” the press release said. 

Georgia was joined by Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin in filing the lawsuit.

D & B Staff

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