Several years ago, a Facebook whistleblower released troves of internal company documents that revealed it knew its products could be harmful or addictive to young users. And ever since then, the social media giant has faced a torrent of criticism and lawsuits for this alleged practice. However, that all pales in comparison to the suit filed against Facebook this week. After a substantial investigation, 41 states are accusing Facebook of engaging in a “scheme to exploit young users for profit” by misleading them about their safety and harvesting their private data in a manner that could violate federal law on children’s privacy.
This suit, which is one of the largest of its kind ever brought against Facebook, is seeking billions of dollars in penalties. Additionally, it could reshape the very way Facebook does business.
“Meta has harnessed its extraordinary innovation and technology to lure youth and teens to maximize use of its products,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta said. “In seeking to bolster profits, Meta has repeatedly misled the public about the substantial dangers of its products… It seems to be part of a corporate playbook where there is knowledge about harms to the public and it is hidden and lied about.”
This isn’t the first time Facebook has dealt with lawsuits from states about its privacy practices. However, with the sheer power and resources behind this case, it could finally be the one that forces substantial change.
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