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Meta gets sued for having a negative impact on the mental health of the youth.

by theparliamentnews.com
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Legal Challenge to Meta

A big legal showdown is happening. 33 states, including influential ones like California and New York, are taking Meta Platforms Inc. to court. They allege that Meta is massively having a negative impact on the mental health of young people, especially children, and that Meta’s apps like Instagram and Facebook are designed to be overly addictive.

Concerns Over Data Collection

The states are also concerned about how Meta gathers data from kids under 13 without getting permission from their parents, which is against the rules. Yet still they have accounts on these platforms. Filed in a federal court in California, this lawsuit also alleges that Meta consistently harvests data from children under 13 without the vital consent of their parents, which is a clear violation of federal law.

Words from New York’s Top Lawyer

New York Attorney General Letitia James is outspoken about this issue. Kids and teenagers are suffering from record levels of poor mental health, and social media companies like Meta are to blame,” declares New York Attorney General Letitia James. She doesn’t mince words, pointing out that Meta has profited from children’s pain by engineering platforms with manipulative features, all while undermining their self-esteem.

Collaborative Investigation

This legal battle is the result of a joint effort by lawyers from different states. They delved into Meta’s secret studies, revealing that Instagram, in particular, has a detrimental impact on teenagers, especially girls. It all comes after damning revelations that first emerged in 2021 from The Wall Street Journal, grounded in Meta’s internal research. This research apparently showed how Instagram can profoundly affect teenagers, particularly teenage girls, in terms of mental health and body image issues. One study cited that 13.5% of teen girls felt that Instagram worsens thoughts of suicide, while 17% believed it exacerbates eating disorders.

Media and Whistleblower’s Impact

The seriousness of the matter is further underscored by the involvement of a consortium of news organizations, including The Associated Press. Their findings were primarily based on leaked documents from whistleblower Frances Haugen. Haugen’s testimony before Congress and a British parliamentary committee has shone a light on these concerns, adding fuel to the fire.

The Prevalence of social media Among Teens

One fact remains undisputed: social media is an integral part of teen life in the U.S. and many parts of the world. According to the Pew Research Center, up to 95% of youths aged 13 to 17 in the U.S. use a social media platform. More than a third of these young individuals claim to use social media “almost constantly.”

Challenges with Regulation and Bypassing Restrictions

Despite regulations banning children under 13 from signing up on social media platforms, the lawsuit highlights the concerning ease with which children can circumvent these bans, often without their parents’ consent. Even restrictions imposed by social media platforms for the sake of children’s mental health can be sidestepped. For example, TikTok introduced a default 60-minute time limit for users under 18, but minors can simply enter a passcode to keep on watching.

A Call for Immediate Action

In May, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy signaled, calling on tech companies, parents, and caregivers to take “immediate action to protect kids now” from the adverse effects of social media. The battle lines are drawn, and the tech industry’s impact on youth mental health is under the spotlight like never before.

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