RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The attorney generals of 42 states, including North Carolina, sued Meta on Tuesday, which owns Facebook and Instagram, for claiming that these platforms were safe and suitable for young users.

The lawsuit also claims that Meta designed their social media platforms to hook children and teenagers.

“Too many kids spend hours every day on Instagram, and Meta isn’t keeping them safe,” North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said. “A whole generation of young people struggle with their health and safety because companies are trying to make an extra dollar. I am bringing this action to demand that Meta do better and not exploit our children.”

The lawsuit states that Meta:

  • Knew its platforms were harmful for children but continued to market them to young people to increase its profits.
  • Misled the public about the dangers of social media use among children and how these apps harm kids’ physical and mental health.
  • Knowingly collected data from users under 13 without their parental consent, in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

Public reporting and Meta’s own internal data indicate that the company created features including the infinite scroll and regular notifications to hook young users and lure them back on the social media platforms, according to a news release from Stein.

The platforms also are designed to trap users in a “rabbit hole”, which can expose young users to harmful content that can lead to anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and self-harm or suicide.

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The attorneys general are seeking injunctive and monetary relief from Meta to rectify harms that it has caused, the release stated.

Stein and a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general are also investigating TikTok for similarly promoting its platform to young people without regard to their health or well-being. That investigation remains ongoing.

A copy of the complaint is available here.