Oregon’s Rosenblum sues Meta, alleging social media platforms harm children

Oregon has joined a federal complaint that alleges Meta’s Facebook and Instagram platforms “purposefully addict” children and teens

Ben Botkin
Oregon Capital Chronicle

Oregon has joined a federal lawsuit that alleges Meta designed Facebook and Instagram to addict teenagers and children.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against Meta, alleging the parent company of Facebook and Instagram knowingly designed the platforms to addict children and teenagers.
The complaint, joined by more than 30 other states with Republican and Democratic attorneys general, is filed in the U.S District Court for the Northern District of California, which is in the jurisdiction of Meta’s corporate headquarters in Menlo Park, located in the San Francisco Bay Area. The lawsuit alleges Meta falsely assured the public that its platforms were safe for children and youth, even while knowing they were addictive and harmful to children’s mental health.
The lawsuit alleges Meta’s business practices violate state consumer protection laws and the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and exacerbates what the U.S. Surgeon General has called a “youth mental health crisis.”
“These platforms are not safe for our young Americans, and Meta knew that!” Rosenblum said in a statement. “Yet, instead of taking steps to mitigate these harms, Meta misled the public and hid the extent of the harms to mental health suffered by young users addicted to the use of its platforms.”
The complaint also alleges that Meta knew that young users, including children under 13, are active on the platforms, and knowingly collected data from these users without parental consent and targeted them.
The 233-page complaint, much of it drawn from confidential proprietary material, also includes public sources and details that former Meta employees have released. For example, the platform relies upon near-constant alerts and infinite scrolling, all designed with the goal of addicting young people, the complaint alleges.
Those features harm youth’s physical and mental health, depriving them of sleep and interfering with their education, the complaint alleges.
The lawsuit is the outcome of a nationwide investigation. Besides Oregon, other states that have joined the case include: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Other agencies have filed lawsuits in state courts, including the District of Columbia and Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Utah, and Vermont. Florida is filing its own federal lawsuit.