The technology giant Meta, owner of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, is once again in the judicial spotlight. A total of 41 states, plus the District of Columbia, sued the company led by Mark Zuckerberg this week for “repeatedly misleading the public about the many dangers” of its social networks.
According to the brief prosecutors, Meta develops its products with the intention that they can be addictive and targets them at a particularly low age group: those under 13 years of age. Its purpose, the document says, is to “arrest” young people and teenagers. Also, the coalition of plaintiffs denounced that the company collected data from minors without the consent of their parents or guardians, which violates the federal laws of the United States.
This lawsuit is a result of the failed negotiations between Meta and the state prosecutor’s offices, which since 2021 have been investigating the impact of these networks on the mental health of minors and teenagers. That year, the American media The Wall Street Journal published a report with internal information from the company in which it pointed out how it found out that Instagram worsened the self-view of the users of their bodies.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta, head of the Office of the Prosecutor where the class action lawsuit was filed, said that “Meta is harming our children and teenagers by cultivating addictions to increase their corporate profits.”
In a statement, the company said they are “disappointed that, instead of working productively with industry companies to create clear age standards for all young people using applications, the attorneys general chose this path.”
Some states, such as Utah, have approved federal laws in recent months that prohibit access to social networks for minors under 13 years old. They also require that young people under 18 have parental consent to use them.