DC, Maryland, Virginia sue Facebook, Instagram for fueling kids' 'addiction' to social media

D.C., Maryland and Virginia announced Tuesday they're filing both Federal and State lawsuits against Facebook and Instagram. 

The suit claims that Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, designed and launched features to get children and teens addicted to social media. 

The attorneys general of Virginia, Maryland and D.C. are among 42 states taking action against Meta. The suit is a result of a multi-state investigation in which D.C., Maryland and Virginia all took part in. 

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares says Meta falsely claimed its features are both safe and suitable for kids.

"Virginia’s laws protect consumers from deceptive and misleading business practices. We believe that Meta has violated these laws. First, Meta profited by monetizing our children’s addiction to its platform," said Miyares in a press conference Tuesday. "They’ve downplayed the serious risk that Meta knew was pervasive on their platform and they misled the public."

In a statement, Meta said it shares "the attorneys general’s commitment to providing teens with safe, positive experiences online, and have already introduced over 30 tools to support teens and their families."

"We’re disappointed that instead of working productively with companies across the industry to create clear, age-appropriate standards for the many apps teens use, the attorneys general have chosen this path," the company added.

Washington D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb wouldn’t comment on whether they’re also looking at TikTok or Snapchat. For now, they’re focusing on the Meta empire of Facebook and Instagram, he said.

"They’re the worst of the worst when it comes to using technology to addict teenagers to social media, all in the furtherance of putting profits over people," said Schwab. 

"Meta knows that it’s platforms are unsafe for young users, yet Meta continues to claim that its products are safe and appropriate," said Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown.

Last week, Frederick County Public Schools filed a lawsuit against social media giants Meta, Google, ByteDance, and Snap Inc. 

Officials say students have faced a myriad of challenges, including heightened feelings of depression, anxiety and body image issues, among others.

"Students in our district and throughout the nation are grappling with a mounting mental health crisis," said FCPS Superintendent Dr. Cheryl L. Dyson. "Our primary objective with this lawsuit is to safeguard the well-being of our students and provide them with the best learning environment possible."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.