Federal lawsuit aims to protect children from social media
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Federal lawsuit aims to protect children from social media

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By Jeffrey M. Leving S.M

Despite several attempts to pass laws to protect children on social media, I am afraid lawmakers have not been able to pass anything.

Now, 33 states have united with a single goal — protecting children — and are suing Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook. The federal lawsuit, filed on October 25, alleges that Meta's products have harmed minors and contributed to the mental health crisis in the United States.

Facebook and other social media companies have taken some action in the past to try to restrict use by minors, but I think their efforts at self-policing seem to be little more than a public relations campaign rather than actually protecting children. Are.

Legislators in many states and at the federal level have also tried to pass laws aimed at protecting children online, but many of those actions either did not pass or did little to prevent the dangers presented to children by social media. Has been done

Jeffrey M. Leving fights for your rightsJeffrey M. Leving fights for your rights
Jeffrey M. Leving fights for your rights

The federal lawsuit, filed in California, seeks court orders to stop Meta from knowingly violating the law by putting “addictive” products on children and, as in the case of several states, seeks to impose unspecified financial penalties against the company. Used to be.

It seems to me that impacting the balance sheets of these companies may be the only way to get Meta and other social media companies to change their ways. We know that social media can bring us closer and help us communicate and learn about what,It's what's going on in the lives of the people we care about. But for children, uncontrolled use can have negative effects.

I fear that children are suffering more from eating disorders, depression and bullying as a result of spending too much time online.

Additionally, some children have gone to social media looking for drugs, engaged in sexual relationships with adults, or discussed disturbing plans to close the school. The alarm has been ringing for some time and lawmakers are beginning to pay attention.

Even U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said in an interview with CNN in January that he believes 13-year-olds are too young to engage in social media and that being on those platforms leads to Is. ,A disservice to children”.

Many social media companies claim not to allow children under 13 on their platforms, and instead rely on self-reporting methods, which children can easily circumvent. In response to the federal lawsuit, Meta released a statement saying, “We are disappointed that our efforts to work productively with companies across the industry to create clear, age-appropriate standards for the many apps used by teens.” “Instead, the Attorney General has chosen to do so.” Path.”

Despite what Meta said in their statement, I wonder whether the company knew or should have known for some time that their products are or could be dangerous to children. After all, much of the attention on the harmful effects of social media was brought by whistleblower and former Facebook employee, Francis Haugen, who testified before a Senate subcommittee in 2021.

Haugen reportedly leaked internal research showing that the company was aware of the negative impact of Instagram on some teens. Additionally, internal research provided by Haugen reportedly found that 13.5% of teen girls said Instagram increases suicidal thoughts and 17% of teen girls say Instagram contributes to their eating disorders.

Haugen's testimony led to a flurry of activity – some lawsuits as well as some efforts by various lawmakers around the country to create stricter rules about how these companies interact with children.

This has led social media companies to establish some self-policing mechanisms themselves. However, it should be no surprise that the industry, like most others that attempt to self-police, may fail. As far as lawmakers are concerned, there are some laws that have made an impact but none will have the power of the federal lawsuit filed in late October.

Meta is one of the richest, most powerful and influential companies on the planet, and like many corporations it seems like it's the only language it can really understand through its pocketbook. If this lawsuit is successful, they will be really hurt and may even be forced to do more to protect the children. I am supporting its success.

Hopefully this will protect many of our children from the potential harm of social media.

Attorney Jeffrey M. Leving is the recipient of President Biden's 2023 Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award. Leving, who has dedicated his career to protecting children and reuniting them with their fathers, has written three acclaimed books: “Fathers' Rights,” “Divorce Wars” and “How to Be a Good Divorced Father,” among which The latter was praised by President Obama and by Cardinal Francis E. George, who was then Archbishop of Chicago. Follow Jeffrey M. Leving on Facebook and X @DadsRights,