Dozens of states have filed a federal lawsuit against Instagram’s parent company, Meta, accusing it of harming young users’ mental health through allegedly addictive features such as infinite news feeds and frequent notifications.
In a federal legal proceeding initiated in California, 33 attorneys general from various states have brought forth allegations against Meta, claiming that the company’s products have detrimentally impacted minors and have been a contributing factor to the escalating mental health crisis in the United States. Florida filed its own lawsuit regarding similar allegations.
The lawsuits (herein together “lawsuit”) allege that Meta’s products have contributed to a mental health crisis in the United States and that the company has profited from children’s pain by intentionally designing its platforms with manipulative features that make children addicted to their platforms while lowering their self-esteem.
Potential Benefits of Lawsuits:
Protection of Minors: The lawsuit aims to protect minors from the alleged harmful effects of Meta’s platforms on their mental health.
Accountability: It holds Meta accountable for allegedly profiting from children’s pain and contributing to a national youth mental health crisis.
Consumer Protection: The lawsuit alleges violations of state-based consumer protection statutes, which are designed to protect consumers from deceptive and harmful business practices.
Privacy Protection: The lawsuit alleges violations of the federal Children’s Online Privacy
Protection Act (COPPA), which prohibits companies from collecting personal information from children under 13 without parental consent.
Potential Downsides of Lawsuits:
Legal Costs: The lawsuit will likely result in significant legal costs for both the states and Meta.
Potential for Settlement: The lawsuit may result in a settlement rather than a court decision, which could limit the impact of the case on future business practices.
Uncertainty of Outcome: The outcome of the lawsuit is uncertain, and it is possible that the states may not succeed in their claims.
Summary of Causes of Action:
Violations of State-Based Consumer Protection Statutes: The lawsuit alleges that Meta violated various state-based consumer protection statutes.
Violations of COPPA: The lawsuit alleges that Meta violated the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act by collecting personal information from children under 13 without parental consent.
Negligence and Product Liability Claims: Some states are also bringing negligence and product liability claims as part of the federal suit.
Summary of Defenses that can be Asserted by Meta:
First Amendment Rights: Meta may assert a defense based on the First Amendment, arguing that the lawsuit infringes on its right to free speech.
Lack of Causation: Meta may argue that there is no causal link between its platforms and the alleged harms to young users’ mental health.
Compliance with COPPA: Meta may argue that it has complied with the requirements of COPPA and has not violated the law.
User Consent: Meta may argue that users consent to the features and practices of its platforms, and that it is not responsible for any alleged harms.
The lawsuits against Meta raise important questions about the impact of social media on young users’ mental health and the responsibility of companies to protect minors from harmful content and practices. The outcome of the lawsuits will likely have significant implications for the tech industry and could result in changes to the way social media platforms operate.
What do you think? Should these cases be filed? Do they have merit?
Read the actual lawsuits:
California federal lawsuit
Florida federal lawsuit