Meta does not protect users under the age of 13 and misleads the public about age enforcement
November 26, 2023

Meta does not protect users under the age of 13 and misleads the public about age enforcement

The uncensored document reveals more details from the lawsuit filed against 33 states of the company Meta last month.

The uncensored lawsuit filed against Meta by 33 states alleges that the company not only knew that its platform was being used by children under the age of 13, but that it sought out and tracked that demographic for years on Instagram. The document, which is first noticed by The New York Times, claims that Meta has long been dishonest about how it handles the accounts of underage users when it discovers them, often failing to block them when they log in and continuing to collect their data.

The new uncensored lawsuit, filed Wednesday, reveals arguments previously labeled urgent when prosecutors across the U.S. first filed suit against the Met last month in federal court in California. It claims that the presence of under-13s on their platforms is an “open secret” at Meta.

Although Facebook rules and Instagram state that a person must be at least 13 years old to register, children can easily lie about their age — something the lawsuit claims Meta is well aware of and has done little to prevent. Instead, when the Meta “received more than 1.1 million reports of users under the age of 13 on Instagram” from 2019 to 2023, “she turned off only part of those orders and regularly continued to collect the data of the other children without the consent of the parents“, claims the lawsuit.

Meta “regularly violates” the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) by targeting children and collecting information about them without parental consent, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit also alleges that Meta's platforms manipulate young users into spending unhealthy amounts of time on the apps, promoting them body dysmorphia and expose them to potentially harmful content.

When the lawsuit was first filed in October, their spokesperson said the company was “disappointed” with the course of action chosen, stating: “We share the prosecutors' commitment to providing teenagers with safe, positive experiences on the Internet.”

The company earlier this month published a blog post in which he calls for federal legislation to shift more responsibility to parents when it comes to children's app downloads. Antigone Davis, the Met's global director of security, suggested that parents should have more responsibility for the actions of children under 16.