Instagram and Facebook parent Meta was sued recently in a collective action by 31 state attorneys general over the application’s addictive nature and its role in the mental health of children and teens.
The lawsuit alleges that certain features in the apps, like the endless scrollable feed, make it easy for younger users to spend hours of time daily on the app.
Likewise, a feature that provides constant notifications on messages and updates makes it difficult for younger users to ignore.
Psychologists believe that this endless barrage of photos and videos depicting seemingly perfect lives on users’ profiles can contribute to depression for viewers, particularly younger users.
“Social media companies, including Meta, have contributed to a national youth mental health crisis and they must be held accountable,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James.
According to the complaint, “Meta has powerful and unprecedented technologies to entice, engage, and ultimately ensnare youth and teens.”
Much research has been conducted over the last decade on the role of social media on the mental health of younger users.
In 2021, the Wall Street Journal published a series of articles called “The Facebook Files,” which revealed the inner strategies employed by the company to keep users in the app.
These revelations were based on internal messages shared by whistleblower Frances Haugen, who later revealed her identity on 60 Minutes.
This led to a series of hearings on the matter in front of Congress and in individual states.
The lawsuit that was filed by the 31 states in the Northern District of California is a direct result of Haugen’s testimony to the toxic nature of Instagram and Facebook on younger users.