On Tuesday, October 24th, 42 states, including WA, filed a lawsuit against social media giant Meta (Facebook).

 The lawsuit claims the company illegally collected data and targeted teens

WA State AG Bob Ferguson released information about the lawsuit, which was filed in the Northern District of California.

According to Ferguson's release:

"Specifically, the lawsuit accuses Meta’s top leaders of knowingly targeting youth — calling them a “valuable, but untapped” market — with harmful features designed to get them hooked for life to maximize profits."

It claims the company, which also oversees Instagram, illegally obtained data on users under the age of 13 without parental consent, which violates consumer protection and the Federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

The lawsuit claims Meta uses programs and algorithms designed to 'capture' and keep the attention of younger users, exposing them to more money-making advertising and ads:

"Meta designed features to provide prolonged and repeated dopamine, or “feel-good,” responses that discourage users from leaving the apps once they open them, tapping into their “fear of missing out.” Some examples:

  • The “like” or reaction button;
  • Push notifications that ping the user repeatedly with sounds, vibrations (haptic) or other audiovisual alerts;
  • A scroll function that feeds a user endless content, known as “infinite scroll.”

The lawsuit recommends changes to the social media platforms, including removing the "like" button, removing autoplay, restricting the frequency of notifications, and enhancing enforcement of removing fake or fraudulent (spammer) accounts.

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The lawsuit, according to information provided by the AG's office does not appear to seek financial damages.

 

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