HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut is among the dozens of states suing Meta Platforms, Inc. for allegedly harming young people’s mental health and contributing to the youth mental health crisis by knowingly designing features on Instagram and Facebook that addict children to its platforms.
“This may be the most consequential lawsuit I file in my time as attorney general, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said.
Tong said Meta’s constant alerts, notifications and infinite scrolling deliver a message more damaging than getting likes.
The federal complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, claims that the company routinely collects data on children under 13 without their parents’ consent, violating federal law. Tong said Meta then monetized kids’ addiction, causing a youth mental health crisis.
“They have to get kids and kids’ eyeballs on their screens as much as possible, and the more time kids spend on Instagram and Facebook, the more Meta earns through targeted advertisements,” Tong said. “As the founder of the infinite scroll feature put it, it’s as if you are taking behavioral cocaine.”
The lawsuit claims Meta lies about having a safe platform, and an entire younger generation is paying the price with depression, anxiety, body image issues and even suicide.
The attorney generals demand compensation from Meta to pay for their role in causing this crisis and for them to change the algorithm and enforce their minimum age of 13 for account holders.
Tong said Meta also violated the Childrens Online Protection Act by not moderating content or its users.
“Meta is well aware children under the age of 13 are on the platform and collects data from these children without first obtaining consent from parents,” Tong said. “Any parent knows the damage that it does, and we worry that it will get so much worse.”
In a statement, Meta said 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. 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.”
Tong said his office has a similar ongoing investigation with TikTok.