June 12, 2024

Mikayla Macfarlane

Serving technology better

Meta sued by 33 states over youth mental health concerns

2 min read
Meta sued by 33 states over youth mental health concerns

Meta Platforms Inc., previously known as Facebook, is facing a significant legal challenge from a bipartisan coalition of 33 attorneys general. The lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of California, alleges that the tech behemoth’s platforms, including Facebook, have been designed in a manner that is “psychologically and physically harmful to young users,” promoting “compulsive, prolonged, and unhealthy use.”

The core of the allegations

The attorneys general are focusing on specific design elements in Meta’s products, notably Instagram, which negatively affect adolescent users’ mental health . Features such as the “like” button, push notifications, and the algorithm-driven feed are under scrutiny. The contention is that these features prey on young users’ fear of missing out, compelling them to spend more time on the platform.

The lawsuit highlights several features that are believed to be detrimental to young users. Based on Fortune reporting, these include:

  • Algorithms designed to retain users on the platform for extended periods.
  • Social comparison tools, such as the “likes” system.
  • Visual tools, including filters, which can potentially lead to body dysmorphia.
  • User experience designs like the “infinite scroll,” which encourages continuous browsing.

Meta’s stance and actions

In response to the allegations, Meta emphasized its commitment to ensuring the safety of teens online. The company expressed its disappointment in an email statement, per Reuters, stating:

“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.”

Broader implications

This lawsuit could be a watershed moment for the tech industry regarding user well-being. A successful lawsuit might catalyze industry-wide design and feature changes.

Bloomberg highlights that this isn’t an isolated incident. The tech industry, especially social media giants, are under increasing scrutiny over their impact on mental health.

The legal challenge against Meta emphasizes the growing concerns surrounding the influence of social media on younger users’ mental health. With the tech industry at a potential inflection point, significant changes might be on the horizon.

Maxwell William

Maxwell William, a seasoned crypto journalist and content strategist, has notably contributed to industry-leading platforms such as Cointelegraph, OKX Insights, and Decrypt, weaving complex crypto narratives into insightful articles that resonate with a broad readership.

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