Colorado Attorney General sues Meta with other states alleging company’s apps are addictive to kids

Elliott Wenzler
Summit Daily

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser led a coalition of more than 40 other attorneys general across the nation Tuesday in suing Meta — which owns Facebook and Instagram — alleging the company intentionally designed features to get children addicted to their platforms. 

The complaint also alleges that the company collected data on children using the platforms, including those under 13, without parental consent, according to a news release. The complaint references 2021 reporting from The Wall Street Journal, which found that the company was targeting young users, calling them a “valuable but untapped audience.” 

“We must address the insidious impact the compulsive use of Meta’s platforms has had on our young generation,” Weiser wrote in a statement. “Just like Big Tobacco and vaping companies have done in years past, Meta chose to maximize its profits at the expense of public health, specifically harming the health of the youngest among us.”

Weiser said he would work to hold the company accountable “for the harm it has and continues to inflict.” 

Former Meta employees say that features like infinite scroll and near-constant alerts “were created with the express goal of hooking young users,” according to the release. The company knew these features harmed children’s physical and mental health, such as their ability to sleep, but didn’t make the information public or try to minimize harm, according to their allegations. 

Much of the complaint references evidence that has not yet been made public, according to a news release. 

The attorneys general allege the company’s practices violate state consumer protection laws and the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which was originally enacted in 1998 and imposes certain requirements on operators of websites or online services directed to children under 13. They ask for a judge to issue an injunction against the company along with requiring monetary relief. 

Some states have pursued litigation in their own state courts and others joined Colorado in the federal case. States joining in the federal lawsuit include Arizona, California, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, New York and others. 

The complaints come from a nationwide investigation led by Weiser and Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skremtti, according to the release. 

The coalition is also investigating TikTok over similar concerns, according to the release.

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