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Over 40 states sue Meta for contributing to the youth mental health crisis

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Facebook's parent company Meta has come under fire as attorneys from multiple US states have filed lawsuits against the company for its role in the mental health crisis.

A bipartisan group of 42 attorneys, which includes 33 states and nine attorneys general have filed various lawsuits against Meta claiming that the social media platform is harming the mental health of young kids. The lawsuit which was filed in the court of California notes that the company "repeatedly misled the public about the substantial dangers of its Social Media Platforms". It also claims that Meta knowingly designed features for Facebook and Instagram that created an addiction among kids and that the company routinely collected data on children under 13 without parental consent.

Meta has harnessed powerful and unprecedented technologies to entice, engage, and ultimately ensnare youth and teens. Its motive is profit, and in seeking to maximize its financial gains, Meta has repeatedly misled the public about the substantial dangers of its social media platforms. It has concealed the ways in which these platforms exploit and manipulate its most vulnerable consumers: teenagers and children.

Meta, on the other hand, has released a statement noting that it is disappointed with the decision to file lawsuits instead of working with it to address the concerns.

We’re disappointed that instead of working productively with companies across the industry to create clear, age-appropriate standards for the many apps teens use, the attorneys general have chosen this path.

The company also noted that it shares “the attorneys general’s commitment to providing teens with safe, positive experiences online, and have already introduced over 30 tools to support teens and their families.”

This comes after an extensive investigation by The Wall Street Journal and whistleblower Frances Haugen which revealed that Meta knew about its platforms being a toxic place but did nothing to remedy the situation.

Furthermore, New York State Attoney's office notes that "Meta’s own internal research documents show its awareness that its products harm young users. Indeed, internal studies that Meta commissioned — and kept private until they were leaked by a whistleblower and publicly reported — reveal that Meta has known for years about these serious harms associated with young users’ time spent on its platforms."

The lawsuit seeks to force Meta to stop the harmful practices and clean its services, as well as pay penalities and restitution.

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