Indiana and 41 other states sue Meta for "harmful and addictive" content towards children

UPDATE: An Indiana judge has dismissed a state lawsuit against TikTok.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita had accused TikTok of sharing inappropriate content with children and failing to keep consumer information safe.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita unites with 41 states in suing Meta, Facebook's parent company, due to their addictive content towards children and teens. 

According to a press released from the office of the Indiana Attorney General, the attorneys general claim that Meta's business practices violate consumer protection laws and Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). 

Some companies under Meta are Facebook, Instagram, What's App and Messenger. 

The attorneys generals in participating states are suing in federal and state court on grounds that the "company knowingly designed and deployed harmful features on Instagram and its other social media platforms that purposefully addict children and teens."

This lawsuit follows the 2023 report from the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy "Social Media and Youth Mental Health," showing that frequent social media usage in youth affects brain development. 

During early adolescents, children develop their identity and sense of self-worth, all of which can be influenced by peer posts, an influencer's display of body image or behavior on social media. 

"Brain development is especially susceptible to social pressures, peer opinions, and peer comparison," writes Dr. Murthy. 

This susceptible time in a child's life is when risk-taking behaviors reach their peak and mental health challenges such as depression can emerge. 

"Frequent social media use may be associated with distinct changes in the developing brain in the amygdala (important for emotional learning and behavior) and the prefrontal cortex (important for impulse control, emotional regulation, and moderating social behavior), and could increase sensitivity to social rewards and punishments," writes Dr. Murthy. 

The attorneys general of participating states also believe that "Meta falsely assured the public that these features are safe and suitable for young users."

In Rokita's opinion, these social media platforms are continuing to harm the physical and mental health of children, leading to inadequate sleep. 

Not only did Meta not disclose the harm made, said Rokita, but they claimed their platforms were safe. 

For recompense, attorneys general are seeking an injunction and monetary relief. 

According to CNN, states participating in Tuesday’s multistate federal suit are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The additional suits filed in state courts were brought by the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Vermont.

Following Indiana's lead, multiple states have also sued TikTok for similar conduct. 

To view the lawsuit play out on a local level, read "South Bend Community School Corporation joins litigation against social media companies." 

Share this article: