SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — The Illinois Attorney General’s Office is taking the parent company of Facebook and Instagram to court for what Kwame Raoul said is “harmful business practices targeting children.”
Raoul is just one of 33 state Attorneys General that are suing Meta Platforms, Inc. in a lawsuit filed in federal court. The lawsuit accused Meta’s business model of targeting tees and children in ways that take advantage of them, part of the company’s business model of trying to capture as much time and attention as possible to sell advertising.
This, Raoul said, exploits young users’ psychological vulnerabilities to keep them using Meta platforms longer, resulting in damaging psychological outcomes. Raoul pointed out that in the decade since Instagram’s rise in popularity, the CDC reported that the number of high school students who experience feelings of persistent sadness and hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts and ideation increased by 40%.
Raoul and others further allege that Meta knows of the potential harm its products cause to youths, and that the company has conducted research that shows its platforms are among the worst in harming young users.
“Our children are in crisis, and we need to act. The addictive features on Meta’s social media platforms interfere with sleep and education, enable cyberbullying, and contribute to depression, anxiety, body dysmorphia and thoughts of self-harm,” Raoul said. “I believe the action we are taking today against Meta is one of – if not the most – important consumer protection actions my office will take. The consequences will affect an entire generation of young people. I am committed to holding Meta, and any other responsible actors, accountable for putting profits ahead of our children.”
Raoul also accused Meta of violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by collecting the personal information of children under the age of 13 without obtaining parental permission. Raoul and other Attorneys General are asking the court to enter an injunction that will stop Meta from continuing these practices.
The lawsuit stems from a bipartisan, nationwide investigation Raoul announced two years ago next month, and is part of Raoul’s efforts to protect children online and address negative impacts of social media on Illinois’ youth.