Instagram and its parent company, Meta, face a federal lawsuit filed by the attorneys general of 41 US states and Washington, DC. The lawsuit alleges that Instagram has contributed to an ongoing mental health crisis among young people by purposefully enticing them into compulsive social media use for profit.
The legal complaint accuses Meta of utilizing powerful technologies to engage and ensnare youth and teens despite being aware of the susceptibility of young people to peer approval, particularly in the form of “likes” on their online content.
The lawsuit also claims that Meta engaged in deceptive practices by concealing the potential harm of its platform, thereby violating consumer protection laws. Additionally, it alleges that Meta collected user data from children under the age of 13, breaking the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, among other officials, stated that social media companies, including Meta, have contributed to a national youth mental health crisis and must be held accountable. In response, Meta expressed disappointment with the lawsuit, arguing that it had already introduced tools to support teens and their families.
This lawsuit represents the most significant legal action taken against Meta and other social media companies for their impact on the mental health and well-being of young people. It comes in the wake of several lawsuits and growing concerns about the influence of social media on young users’ development and mental health.