RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares (R) is joining 32 other state attorneys general in a federal lawsuit against Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram.
The federal lawsuit alleges Meta purposefully misled the public about the safety of its social media platforms and knowingly designed features harmful to kids’ mental health.
“The company had a deep understanding that users of Meta’s applications, particularly young users, suffered significant and extensive harms associated with addiction and compulsive use of their platforms, including anxiety,” Miyares said. “They knew about the depression. They knew about the negative social comparison. They knew about the negative body image problems. They knew about the eating disorders. They knew about the suicide.”
Also, Miyares says Meta makes money at the expense of kids’ mental health by purposefully making their platforms more addictive.
“Features like infinite scroll and near constant alerts were created with the express goal of hooking young users onto their platforms,” Miyares said.
Miyares also says Meta is violating a federal law known as the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which requires social media platforms to obtain “verifiable parental consent” to collect data from users under 13. Currently, Meta relies on users self-reporting their age when signing up.
“Meta knows that over 50% of the users under the age of 13, actually lie when they are signing up,” Miyares said. “These age gates are easy to overcome and Meta does nothing to meaningfully enforce the age restrictions.”
According to Miyares’ office, the states which are part of the federal lawsuit are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, 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.
Florida is filing its own federal lawsuit. Nine other attorneys general have announced they are also filing their own suits in their respective state courts, bringing the total number of states taking legal action against Meta to 42.