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Meta Designed Platforms to Addict Kids, Court Document Claims

Art by Muhammed Asyfaul via Unsplash

Meta Designed Platforms to Addict Kids, Court Document Claims

By Movieguide® Contributor

A recent court document revealed that Meta, Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, intentionally designed its platforms to hook kids and teens.

“Company documents cited in the complaint described several Meta officials acknowledging the company designed its products to exploit shortcomings in youthful psychology such as impulsive behavior, susceptibility to peer pressure and the underestimation of risks,” the Associated Press reported.

According to The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, Meta received millions of warnings and complaints about minors on Instagram. Even though the amount of underage users was an “open secret,” Meta only disabled some of those accounts.

Meta added that people under the age of 13 cannot create an account on Instagram.

“However, verifying the age of people online is a complex industry challenge,” the company stated. “Many people — particularly those under the age of 13 — don’t have an ID, for example.”

According to The Guardian, “In one example, the lawsuit cites an internal email thread in which employees discuss why a 12-year-old girl’s four accounts were not deleted following complaints from the girl’s mother stating her daughter was 12 years old and requesting the accounts to be taken down. The employees concluded that ‘the accounts were ignored’ in part because representatives of Meta ‘couldn’t tell for sure the user was underage.’”

Meta told AP that the “complaint misrepresents its work over the past decade to make the online experience safe for teens,” adding it provides “over 30 tools to support them and their parents.”

However, “One Facebook safety executive alluded to the possibility that cracking down on younger users might hurt the company’s business in a 2019 email, according to the Journal report. But a year later the same executive expressed frustration that while Facebook readily studied the usage of underage users for business reasons, it didn’t show the same enthusiasm for ways to identify younger kids and remove them from its platforms,” Market Watch wrote.

Regardless of what Meta says, California Attorney General Rob Bonta explained, “Meta knows that what it is doing is bad for kids — period. Thanks to our unredacted federal complaint, it is now there in black and white.”

Due to the addictive and damaging nature of social media, numerous states have filed lawsuits against the tech giant. Movieguide® reported:

Forty-one states and the District of Columbia are suing Meta for building addictive features into its technology that harm children’s well-being.

“Our bipartisan investigation has arrived at a solemn conclusion: Meta has been harming our children and teens, cultivating addiction to boost corporate profits,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

“We have a youth mental health crisis in the United States,” added Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. “The young people were brought down rabbit holes.”

To hold Meta accountable for this alleged business practice, thirty-three states are filing a joint lawsuit against the company, while eight states and Washington D.C. are filing separate complaints in federal, state or local courts.


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