Saturday, January 13, 2024

Tennessee AG files unredacted complaint showing harm of Instagram to teens

 By Jon Styf, The Center Square Jan 11, 2024 - Tennessee’s attorney general filed an updated and un-
redacted version of its lawsuit against Meta claiming the company knew its Instagram platform was harmful to young users and did not stop those harmful features.

The features led young users to increased depression and anxiety along with increased hyperactivity, lack of sleep and other mental health harms. The lawsuit claims Meta knew of those issues and tried to hide them.

“The un-redacted complaint makes clear that Meta knew its platforms were hurting kids and made a very clear decision to choose money over the mental health of its young users,” Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti said in a statement. “Tennessee law protects kids from companies, big or small, that mislead and hurt them, and we will continue to aggressively enforce that law.”

Tennessee is one of several states, including New Mexico, currently suing Meta for conduct harmful to minors.

The lawsuit accuses Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg of going against retained experts and making a filter available that mimicked the effects of plastic surgery, which it says had devastating effects on young women.

Meta researched showed teens spoke of Instagram like addicts speak of something they know is bad for them but they cannot resist, the lawsuit says.

Meta also learned that its “time spent” tool was inaccurate but continued to use the feature and tout it as a wellness feature.

“Nearly half of teen girls (48%) often or always compare their appearances on [Instagram], and one-third (34%) feel intense pressure to look perfect,” the Meta research showed.

The research also showed 13% of those ages 13 to 15 received unwanted advances on Instagram within the past seven days, 27.2% of users witnessed bullying over the past week and 108% were the subject of Instagram bullying over that same span.

Rod's Comment: While I don't doubt that platforms like Instagram and Tic Tok can be harmful to children, I am cautious about using the power of government to silence even harmful voices. 

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