More than 30 states filed a federal lawsuit against Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, alleging the platforms’ apps are designed to be addictive and harm children’s mental health.
The lawsuit signed by 33 state attorneys general was filed Tuesday in a San Francisco federal court. The suit claims Meta violated both federal children’s online privacy law and state consumer protection laws by making its products addictive and then lying about how they harm children’s mental health.
Additionally, eight state attorneys general and the District of Columbia are filing separate lawsuits in their own state courts alleging Meta’s practices violate state consumer protection laws. In total, 42 states, including the District of Columbia, filed lawsuits in federal and state courts Tuesday.
If successful, the states’ lawsuits could force Meta to change the way it designs and markets its platforms to the public, and lead to hefty fines. The legal strategy has drawn comparisons to the various lawsuits filed against the tobacco industry in the 1990s, which led to hundreds of billions of dollars in damages, and changed how the industry markets its products.
“We refuse to allow Meta to trample on our children’s mental and physical health, all to promote its products and increase its profits,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta, who is leading the federal lawsuit, during a virtual press conference with the other states. “We refuse to allow the company to feign ignorance of the harm that’s causing, we refuse to let it continue business as usual.”