Meta faces lawsuit over alleged deliberate targeting of children
The complaint also alleges Meta was aware of numerous complaints about underage users on Instagram but only deactivated a small fraction of reported accounts, violating the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act.
Attorneys general from 33 states have filed a lawsuit against Meta, which was initially redacted, claiming the company engineered its platforms to addict children and knowingly allowed underage users to keep accounts.
The legal complaint alleges that Meta was aware of millions of complaints about underage users on Instagram but only deactivated a fraction of reported accounts, violating the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act, which mandates notice and parental consent for collecting data from children.
The lawsuit also emphasizes Meta’s alleged creation of addictive products and intentional targeting of children, as disclosed by whistle-blower Frances Haugen. Meta responded, stating that the complaint misrepresents its efforts to ensure the safety of teen users over the past decade and highlighting the existence of over 30 tools for teen and parental support. In response to the complex challenge of age verification, the company stated it is backing a proposed federal law requiring parental approval for app downloads by teens under 16.
Why does it matter?
The lawsuit, first lodged in federal court in Oakland last month, intensified the ongoing scrutiny of social media giants regarding their practices concerning their youngest users. Last month, California judges gave the green light for over 700 personal injury claims against Meta, Google, TikTok, and Snap. At the same time, these companies also face 400+ lawsuits from school districts alleging public nuisance. Moreover, amidst recent legislation across various US states aimed at regulating the tech industry, particularly in safeguarding children, tech leaders have raised concerns about potential infringements on free speech rights under the First Amendment.