Florida AG files lawsuit against Meta, alleges manipulative tactics

by | Oct 24, 2023

  • Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody filed a lawsuit against Meta on Tuesday, alleging software functions that exploit adolescent users. 
  • The lawsuit, which contends the tech giant violates Florida’s consumer protection law, alleges that Meta’s platforms harm children by using algorithms to capture attention and gather monetizable data.
  • In the challenge, Moody further alleges that Meta concealed the known psychological and health risks to young users while claiming their platforms were safe.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against Meta, the company behind Facebook and Instagram, accusing it of exploiting young users.

Per the suit, the state’s challenge largely focuses on features that are allegedly designed to keep users, particularly adolescents, hooked to their screens. The state points to software functions including an “Infinite Scroll” feature that allows users to continuously scroll through content without reaching an endpoint or “bottom” of a feed.

Moody similarly brings attention to the platforms’ autoplay features that begin the playback of a video or reel unprompted, one after another. A feature referred to as “Stories” also appears within the lawsuit, which temporarily uploads, with the state contending that it entices users to repeatedly visit the platform.

“[Meta’s] platforms cause serious harm to children, parents, and the community at large by deploying algorithms and other features designed to hijack the attention of its users, barrage them with advertisements, and relentlessly mine their interactions for monetizable data,” reads the suit. “These features designed to maximize user engagement are particularly harmful to young users.”

Meta’s actions, the complaint alleges, violate Florida’s consumer protection law and COPPA. The federal complaint seeks injunctive and monetary relief to rectify the maintained harm caused by the platforms and their functional designs.

Within the lawsuit, Moody further asserts that Meta deliberately misled the public regarding the harms associated with the use of its platforms, concealing the extent of the “psychological and health harms” suffered by young users addicted to its platforms.

“Meta knew these addictive features harmed young people’s mental health, including undermining their ability to get adequate sleep, but did not disclose the harm nor did they make meaningful changes to minimize the harm,” said Moody in a prepared statement. “Instead, Meta claimed the platforms are safe for young users.”


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