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Georgia and over 30 other states filed a lawsuit against the company behind Instagram and Facebook.

Credit: Capitol Beat News Service

ATLANTA – Georgia has joined a bipartisan coalition of 33 states in filing a federal lawsuit accusing social media giant Meta of knowingly designing and deploying harmful features on its platforms that addict children and teens.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, claims Meta knew of the harmful impact of platforms including Facebook and Instagram on young people and falsely assured the public these features were safe and suitable for young users.

“We have become increasingly concerned with Meta possibly marketing to children despite knowing the risks posed to their mental health and wellbeing,” Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said Tuesday. “We will not allow our state’s youngest children to be the targets of deceptive social media tactics, and we’re working diligently to address this dangerous and alarming trend.”

The lawsuit alleges that Meta’s business practices violate state consumer protection laws and the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The attorneys general claim these practices have fueled what U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has called a “youth mental health crisis” that has ended lives and damaged families.

Based on testimony from former Meta employees, the complaint claims the platforms’ algorithms push users into going down “rabbit holes” to maximize engagement to the point they don’t get enough sleep.

The lawsuit seeks injunctive and monetary relief to rectify the harms done by the platforms.

Meta released a statement Tuesday expressing disappointment in the states for taking them to court.

“We share the attorneys generals’ commitment to providing teens with safe, positive experiences online, and have already introduced over 30 tools to support teens and their families,” the company wrote. “We’re disappointed that instead of working productively with companies across the industry to create clear, age-appropriate standards for the many apps teens use, the attorneys general have chosen this path.”

Nearly all the attorneys general joining in the suit have worked together since 2021 to investigate Meta. The group also is looking into conduct by social media platform TikTok based on similar concerns.

Eight states that did not sign onto the federal lawsuit have filed parallel complaints listing similar allegations.

This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with Capitol Beat News Service.