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Meta Platform being sued for addictive features targeting youth

Oct. 25, 2023 8:01 pm PST | SEO Gazette | By Luke Ross

Coalition of U.S. Attorneys General begin litigation

Yesterday, October 24th, 2023, a bipartisan group of state attorneys general in the United States filed a lawsuit against Meta Platforms Inc., formerly known as Facebook, alleging that the tech giant has implemented addictive features aimed at children and young adults. The lawsuit argues that these features could be harmful and were intentionally designed to retain users for longer periods, thereby maximizing advertising revenue.

Background

Meta Platforms has been under increasing scrutiny from lawmakers, regulators, and the public for various ethical and legal issues, ranging from misinformation to monopolistic practices. This latest lawsuit represents a concerted effort from a coalition of states, both Republican and Democratic, to hold Meta accountable for its alleged unethical business practices.

The Allegations

The lawsuit claims that Meta deliberately designed addictive features such as endless scrolling, notifications, and algorithms that keep users, particularly young children and teenagers, glued to their screens. It alleges that the company ignored warnings and research indicating that these features could contribute to mental health issues, including depression and anxiety.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) made the following statement regarding the case, “Our bipartisan investigation has arrived at a solemn conclusion: Meta has been harming our children and teens, cultivating addiction to boost corporate profits,”

Meta’s Response

Meta has not yet officially responded to the lawsuit but has previously defended its practices, stating that they aim to connect people and foster communities. Critics argue that such defenses are a smokescreen for a business model that prioritizes user engagement metrics over individual well-being.

Potential Ramifications

If the lawsuit is successful, it could set a precedent for future litigation against social media companies and possibly usher in a new era of regulation. Companies like Meta could be required to overhaul their user interface and algorithms to minimize addictive features. This could also serve as a catalyst for federal legislation aimed at curbing the potential harms of social media.

Public Reaction

The lawsuit has garnered widespread public attention and debate. Advocates for stronger regulation of social media platforms see it as a step in the right direction, while others worry that it may lead to unnecessary government interference in the tech industry.

Expert Opinions

Legal experts opine that the case could be a watershed moment for how social media platforms are regulated in the U.S. This case also brings to light the responsibility that the tech industry has in ethical practice. D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb told CNBC, “It should have been the practice of Meta to alert people that they were dealing with a dangerous, potentially addictive product before they started using it.”

Conclusion

The lawsuit against Meta Platforms marks a crucial juncture in the ongoing debate about the role and responsibility of social media companies. It brings up pressing issues that demand attention: the ethical considerations of designing addictive features and the long-term effects on users, particularly our country’s youth. As both sides prepare their arguments, the case promises to be a focal point for discussions on tech regulation for years to come.

Article written by Luke Ross, The SEO Gazette

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