Tallahassee, Florida – The state of Florida, joined by forty-one other states and the District of Columbia, is engaged in a significant legal battle against Meta Platforms, Inc., the parent company of social media giants Facebook and Instagram. This coalition of states is accusing the company of engaging in deceptive practices that negatively impact the mental health of children and violate various consumer protection laws.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is at the forefront of this legal action, asserting that Facebook and Instagram employ “manipulative” features designed to addict kids to their platforms. The lawsuit claims these features, such as “infinite scroll” and constant notifications, contribute to mental health issues among young users. The suit alleges violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
This legal action is a response to a growing concern over the mental health crisis affecting young people, which many believe is exacerbated by social media platforms. The issue gained further traction following revelations from former Facebook manager Frances Haugen, who disclosed internal company documents. These documents reportedly show that Meta was aware of the harmful effects its algorithms could have on body image and mental health, particularly among younger users.
The lawsuits, which have been consolidated into a single case set to be heard in the Northern District of California, come after failed settlement discussions with Meta. The legal battle reflects the nationwide concern over the issue, with California Attorney General Rob Bonta highlighting internal studies and reports by Meta acknowledging the harmful effects of its products.
A key element of the lawsuit is the testimony of minors who claim they became addicted to the platforms. The attorneys general argue that Facebook and Instagram have knowingly exploited children with tools and techniques designed to addict them, thereby harming their mental health. Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown said “the intentional design of features like infinite scroll and near-constant alerts” was created to hook young users and cause long-term psychological harm.
Meta, on the other hand, has denied these allegations, stating that it incorporates features to protect the children who use its sites. The company’s response sets the stage for a contentious legal showdown that will delve into the practices of social media companies and their impact on the youngest members of society. As this case progresses, it will likely shape the conversation around digital responsibility and the protection of children in the online world.