New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that she and a coalition of attorneys general from around the nation are investigating Meta Platforms, Inc. — formerly known as Facebook — for providing and promoting the social media platform Instagram to children and young adults despite knowing that such use is associated with physical and mental health harms. The coalition of attorneys general are examining whether the company violated state consumer protection laws and put the public at risk.
“Doesn’t make a difference if you call it Instagram, Facebook, or Meta, the fact still remains the same: These social media platforms are extremely dangerous and have been proven to cause both physical and mental harm in young people,” said Attorney General James. “Time and again, Mark Zuckerberg and the companies he run have put profits over safety, but our investigation seeks to end that behavior. Our coalition will not hesitate to take whatever action is necessary to protect children and young adults from the harms Instagram and other social media platforms risk to so many.”
The investigation targets, among other things, the techniques utilized by Meta to increase the frequency and duration of engagement by young users and the resulting harms caused by such extended engagement. Today’s announcement follows recent reports revealing that Meta’s own internal research shows that using Instagram is associated with increased risks of physical and mental health harms on young people, including depression, eating disorders, and even suicide.
Attorney General James has long been concerned about the negative impacts of social media platforms on New York’s youngest residents. In May, as part of a bipartisan coalition of 44 attorneys general, Attorney General James urged Facebook to abandon its plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under the age of 13.