Minnesota AG suing Meta over 'harmful, addicting' social media features

Alleging that Facebook’s parent company knowingly designed and deployed harmful features on Instagram and its other social media platforms that purposefully addict children and teens, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has joined a lawsuit with 42 other attorneys general to sue Meta.

The bipartisan group plans to sue Meta in both federal and state courts, alleging the company not only used the addicting features, but also assured the public they were safe and suitable for young users.

"It’s my job to protect Minnesotans, especially the most vulnerable. Meta is very intentionally trying to manipulate our children and teens into spending as much time on their platforms as possible, despite knowing this is causing serious harm," said Attorney General Ellison in a statement Tuesday. "Meta’s efforts to addict our young people and sacrifice their well-being for engagement is disgraceful, predatory, and illegal."

Ellison has joined a federal complaint with a total of 33 states, asserting Meta’s business practices violate state consumer protection laws and the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), saying the practices continue to harm physical and mental health - creating a "youth mental health crisis."

According to Ellison, the coalition alleges that instead of taking steps to mitigate harm, it misled the public about the use of its platform, and concealed the extent of harm suffered by young users addicted to use of its platforms. It also says the company targeted these young users.

Meta profited by purposely making its platforms addictive to children and teens, using algorithms to push users into descending "rabbit holes" in an effort to maximize engagement, the complaint alleges.

The federal complaint seeks injunctive and monetary relief to rectify the harms these platforms caused. Parallel complaints have also been filed in state courts.

Attorney General Ellison and the bipartisan, multi-state coalition that brought today’s complaint are also investigating TikTok’s conduct on a similar set of concerns. 

Joining Ellison in the federal lawsuit against Meta are the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.