TECH NEWS – Meta’s addictive features on two social platforms, Facebook and Instagram, were harmful to the physical and mental health of young users, and Mark Zuckerberg’s company KNEW about it!
Thirty-three US states. That’s two-thirds of the United States (since it’s made up of fifty states), so this is going to be a pretty serious lawsuit for Zuckerberg, and it will be difficult for them to defend themselves if the lawsuit alleges that they directly caused the addiction of children and teenagers.
“Kids and teens are suffering from record levels of poor mental health, and social media companies like Meta are to blame. Meta 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. Social media companies, including Meta, have contributed to a national youth mental health crisis, and they must be held accountable,” New York State Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.
When the lawsuit against Meta was filed in October, it was still heavily censored, but the version released by California has less censorship. It revealed that in 2021, the company received reports of more than 402,000 Instagram users under the age of 13, but was active in less than 164,000 cases. In 2018, an internal email suggested that parents should be “coached” to convince their children to stay on the platform. The document also revealed another failure: a 12-year-old girl’s four accounts could not be deleted by Meta, despite repeated complaints from her mother… and the company didn’t act because employees weren’t sure if the person was a minor!?
According to the lawsuit, Meta’s business model was based on getting young users to spend as much time as possible on its platforms, and it was designed to do so with directly psychologically manipulative features (which were not advertised as manipulative by Zuck’s company), and Meta regularly published directly misleading reports so that it consistently had a low rate of negative and harmful effects. They deliberately misrepresented their research on the negative effects of social media (even internally: Meta knew about it for years!).
There are also allegations of widespread violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA; the one that will cost Epic a whopping half a billion dollars in 2022): “Meta has marketed and targeted its social media platforms to children under the age of 13, and has actual knowledge that these children are using its platforms. But Meta has refused to obtain (or even attempt to obtain) the consent of the parents of those children before collecting and monetizing their personal information.”
In June, Meta announced its parental controls, which came to Facebook, Instagram, and Horizon Worlds in November. In 2021, Take A Break appeared on Instagram, reminding users to stop scrolling and do something else instead, but the lawsuit says Meta’s design decisions made them more inclined to keep scrolling through Instagram. California Attorney General Rob Bonta says Meta knows what it’s doing is bad for kids, and now we’re seeing it in black and white.
The lawsuit looks pretty well put together…