Sébastien Bozon Agence France-Presse States, Democrats and Republicans, claim Meta has “covered up how its platforms [Facebook and Instagram] exploit and manipulate the most vulnerable consumers.”
Already in the crosshairs of justice, the social network giant Meta was targeted on Tuesday by lawsuits from 40 American states which accuse its Facebook and Instagram applications of harming the “mental and physical health of young people”.
< p>“Meta exploited powerful and unprecedented technologies to attract […] and ultimately trap young people and adolescents in order to make profits”, assert the attorneys general in the introduction of the complaint filed with a Californian court .
The states, both Democrats and Republicans, claim that the California group “covered up how these platforms [Facebook and Instagram] exploit and manipulate its most vulnerable consumers,” and “neglected the considerable harm” caused to “mental and physical health young people in our country.”
This legal action represents the culmination of investigations carried out over two years into the methods of the two platforms, considered “addictive” by the authorities.
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Contacted by AFP, Meta said he was “disappointed that the attorneys general have chosen this path instead of working productively with industry companies to create clear, age-appropriate standards for the many apps used by teens.”
“We share the attorneys general's commitment to providing safe and positive online experiences for teens, and we have already introduced more than 30 tools to support teens and their families,” said a spokesperson for the group.< /p>
“Limit not to be crossed”
States mobilized in the fall of 2021 after a former Facebook employee launched the alert on the practices of his former company.
Engineer Frances Haugen leaked more than 20,000 pages of internal documents, insisting in front of various parliaments that the social media giant was putting profits ahead of the security of its users.
According to the complaint from On Tuesday, Facebook and Instagram features were designed to “manipulate young users into compulsive and prolonged use of the platforms.”
Prosecutors further accuse Meta of lying to the public (by assuring that its products were safe and suitable for adolescents) and by “publishing misleading reports.”
While Congress has been unable for years to agree on laws to better regulate information technology giants, both on questions of abuse of dominant position and consumer protection, the subject of children tends to unite the elected officials of the two major political parties.
“With the legal action filed today, we mark the line that must not be crossed,” declared the attorney general of California, Rob Bonta, quoted in a press release. “We must protect our children and we will not back down in this fight. »
Tuesday's complaint also accuses Meta of violating the Children's Privacy Act.
The states are asking the courts to force Meta to end its practices and demand the payment of fines.
Other cases brought jointly by several States are underway against large technology companies, particularly on questions of monopoly.