TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Ashley Moody is taking legal action to protect children. Today, Attorney General Moody sued Meta alleging that the company knowingly designed and deployed harmful features on Instagram and its other social media platforms that purposefully addict children and teens. At the same time, Meta falsely assured the public that these features are safe and suitable for young users.
Attorney General Moody’s action asserts that Meta’s business practices violate Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. These practices continue to harm the physical and mental health of children and teens, and fueled what the U.S. Surgeon General deemed a “youth mental health crisis,” which has ended lives, devastated families and damaged the potential of a generation of young people.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “Meta has gone unchecked for too long, and our children are suffering the consequences of these unlawful practices. Today, I took action to stop Meta from targeting minors with addictive features to keep them online for hours, collecting their data and other unlawful actions that harm teens’ mental health.”
The complaint alleges that Meta knew of the harmful effects of its platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, on young people. Instead of taking meaningful steps to mitigate these harms, Meta misled the public about the harms associated with use of its platform, concealing the extent of the psychological and health harms suffered by young users addicted to use of its platforms. The complaint further alleges that Meta knew that young users, including those under 13, were active on the platforms, and knowingly collected data from these users without parental consent.
Meta developed features like infinite scroll and near-constant alerts with the express goal of hooking young users. These manipulative tactics continually lure children and teens back onto the platform. As Aza Raskin, the original developer of the infinite scroll concept, noted to the BBC about the feature’s addictive qualities: “If you don’t give your brain time to catch up with your impulses, . . . you just keep scrolling.”
Meta knew these addictive features harmed young people’s mental health, including undermining their ability to get adequate sleep, but did not disclose the harm nor did they make meaningful changes to minimize the harm. Instead, Meta claimed the platforms are safe for young users.
Meta’s actions, the complaint alleges, violate Florida’s consumer protection law and COPPA. The federal complaint seeks injunctive and monetary relief to rectify the harm caused by Meta’s platforms.