Attorneys general of 33 US states have accused Meta of violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by knowingly collecting personal data of users under 13 on its platforms, including Instagram and Facebook. The lawsuit alleges that Meta has refused to disable most accounts of users under the age of 13 and has collected their personal data without parental consent, including location and email address.
Meta Allegedly Targeted Children with Harmful Content
The lawsuit also alleges that Meta knew that its algorithm could target children with harmful content, harming their well-being. Internal messages show that company employees were concerned that “content on Instagram causes negative emotions in teenagers and affects their mental health.”
Meta Faces Wave of Lawsuits Following Whistleblower’s Revelation
The lawsuit is part of a wave of legal action against Meta following revelations from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen. Haugen presented tens of thousands of internal company documents that she said proved the company knew its products could negatively affect the mental health of children and adolescents.
Meta has denied the allegations in the lawsuit, stating that it takes steps to delete accounts of users under the age of 13 when it identifies them, notes NIXSolutions. The company also says that it is committed to protecting the privacy and well-being of its users.
If found guilty, Meta could face billions of dollars in fines. The company could also face reputational damage and a loss of trust from users.