Thirty-three states have initiated a lawsuit against Meta Platforms and its Instagram division. The lawsuit accuses the company of creating and fueling mental health concerns in young people who use the app. In the complaint, filed Tuesday (Oct. 24), the attorneys general of participating states said that the company has repeatedly misled the public about the mental health concerns connected with its social media platforms.
According to the filing, Meta knowingly encouraged compulsive and addictive social media use in youth while misrepresenting the dangers of using these platforms. The goal, according to the complaint, was profits.
The states’ lawsuit claims research has clearly shown children who use social media platforms run by the company experience a range of negative outcomes. Problems reportedly include mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, physical health concerns such as insomnia, and interference with activities of daily living and education.
In response, Meta revealed its disappointment with the lawsuit. In a statement, it expressed the desire to work productively with other businesses to create age-appropriate standards for popular apps, rather than attempting to resolve issues in the courtroom.
In addition to the joint suit filed by the states, eight others and Washington, D.C. filed related lawsuits on the same day, according to Reuters. With a total of 42 authorities bringing action against the platform, shares dropped 0.6 percent on Tuesday.
Meta is facing civil penalties that could reach as high as $50,000 for each violation of various state laws. The basis for much of the lawsuit comes from documents released in 2021 that indicate the company knew Instagram had a negative effect on body image for many teen girls and was addictive for many users, the outlet adds.
This lawsuit is not the first of its kind. Google’s YouTube and ByteDance’s TikTok are both facing hundreds of lawsuits on behalf of both children and school districts.