Nebraska Attorney General Hilgers joins states suing Meta over youth mental health

Dozens of states are suing Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of Instagram and Facebook.
Published: Oct. 24, 2023 at 4:52 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska Attorney General Mike Hilgers is one of many suing Meta Products Inc., the company behind Facebook and Instagram.

They allege the company is well aware of the addictive and harmful effects its product has on young people -- yet does nothing to stop it. The attorneys general want Facebook and Instagram to cease two things: collecting personal data on those under the age of 13 without parental consent, along with changing the algorithm and notifications that make the platforms so addictive. And they’re going to court to make it happen.

Hilgers joined several other attorneys general on a Zoom call Tuesday to explain the suit. Part of the research comes from a whistleblower who shared internal documents from Meta alleging it knew its products were harmful to young users -- often dwelling on negative topics -- and yet, company officials publicly denied it.

“Not only do we stand in protecting children today, but we stand to protect parents,” Hilgers said. “I’m a parent. I have four little kids under the age of 13. Parents like me in Nebraska and the rest of the country are doing the best they can each day to make good decisions for their children so they can protect them. What they need is accurate and truthful information from platforms like Meta that can have a profound negative impact on our children’s mental health and well-being.”

42 attorneys general are part of the lawsuit against Meta. Some states have also filed individual suits alleging Meta violated consumer protection laws. In a statement, a Meta spokesperson said they “share the commitment to providing teens with a safe and positive experience online” and that company officials are “disappointed” the attorneys general chose to sue rather than “working productively” to create “age-appropriate standards” for teens.