Meta is facing a lawsuit from attorneys general of 33 US states over allegations of intentionally creating and launching features on Facebook and Instagram that addict children and teens.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James blames social media companies like Meta for record levels of poor mental health among kids and teenagers.
The lawsuit claims that in 2021, Meta received over 402,000 reports of under-13 users on Instagram but acted on fewer than 164,000 of them, alleging active efforts to avoid addressing complaints about underage users.
Meta's business model is accused of being based on maximizing the time young users spend on its platforms, with features designed to be "psychologically manipulative."
The company allegedly promoted these features as non-manipulative and published misleading reports on user experiences while concealing and downplaying research indicating negative outcomes associated with social media use.
Widespread violations of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) are part of the allegations, with claims that Meta marketed its platforms to children under 13 without obtaining parental consent for data collection and monetization.
Meta introduced parental supervision tools in Messenger in June and expanded them to Facebook, Instagram, and Horizon Worlds in November, but the lawsuit questions their effectiveness.
The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction against Meta's practices on its social media platforms, as well as per-state fines, civil penalties, and legal costs.
Meta has not yet commented on the lawsuit.
"Meta knows that what it is doing is bad for kids — period," California Attorney General Rob Bonta said. "Thanks to our unredacted federal complaint, it is now there in black and white, and it is damning. We will continue to vigorously prosecute this matter."