Meta Successfully Unites 33 US States in Agreement

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Meta Successfully Unites 33 US States in Agreement
CNN, New York-This week, Meta's solicitors are truly making their salaries.

View this: More than thirty states are suing the parent company of both platforms over worries that the "addictive" features of Instagram and Facebook are negatively affecting the mental health of teenagers.

33 solicitors general claim that Meta's goods have injured children and exacerbated the country's mental health problem in a federal lawsuit brought in California.

There was more to come from the legal assault, as my colleague Brian Fung explains. Eight other solicitors general filed comparable lawsuits against Meta in state courts. Additionally, the state of Florida filed a federal complaint against the business, claiming that it had deceived customers about possible health hazards.

(Wow, so many court cases on only one Tuesday!)

Nevertheless, this barrage of legal action stems from a bipartisan probe that began in 2021, following the disclosure of internal documents by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, who claimed that Meta knew its products could have detrimental effects on the mental health of youth, particularly girls.

"We are aware that choices were made to increase the product's addictiveness," stated Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti. "And we want the company to take that back, to make sure they aren't taking advantage of these child vulnerabilities."

In response, Meta stated that it has previously provided users with options and that it supports the mission of the attorney generals to ensure teen safety online.

"We're disappointed that the solicitors general have chosen this path, rather than working productively with companies across the industry to create clear, age-appropriate standards for the many apps teens use," a statement from Meta read.

The federal lawsuit, which was filed in California, asks for court orders that forbid Meta from breaking any laws and, in the case of numerous states, monetary fines that are not defined.

broad overview
As legislators come to terms with the terrible reality of the information dump that is the Internet in general and social media in particular, we are in the midst of a kind of Big Tech reckoning. (Hey everyone, welcome to the celebration! Enter now, as the water is poisonous.)

The legal attack on Tuesday is a part of a larger attempt by the federal government and states to restrain the Googles and Metas of the world, who thrived for years with no oversight, in part because of massive lobbying operations in Washington, DC, to get politicians off the industry's back. It wasn't until Haugen came out through the Wall Street Journal, which published a number of incriminating stories detailing Meta's own in-house studies on the impact of social media on young people who are mentally ill in 2021.

To be clear, the adolescents represented a small portion of all users, and the researchers at Meta came to the conclusion that most users were not at danger from using social media.

Nevertheless, the remarkably united stance of so many states (many of which are unable to agree on anything) indicates that politicians are paying attention to the health hazards associated with internet use, just like they did when they resisted cigarette advertisements that targeted youth decades ago.

Colorado AG Phil Weiser stated in a statement that Meta "chosen to maximise its profits at the expense of public health, specifically harming the health of the youngest among us—just like Big Tobacco and vaping companies have done in years past."

By no means is Meta alone. A federal judge in California is scheduled to hear similar accusations against the larger tech sector later this week. Attorneys for Google, Meta, Snap, and TikTok will present their cases in court, pleading with the judge to reject over 200 lawsuits from plaintiffs alleging the firms are abusing or damaging their users.

Much of the subsequent events are contingent upon the outcome of this litigation. Lawyers in Silicon Valley, no pressure. No demands.