Meta Accused of Wanting Under-13s and Misleading Age Enforcement, According to Unsealed Complaint

The complaint in a lawsuit against Meta by 33 states alleges that the company not only knows that children under 13 use its platforms, but has also actively pursued this demographic on Instagram. The document, initially reported by The New York Times, claims that Meta has been dishonest about how it handles underage users’ accounts, often failing to disable them when reported and continuing to collect their data.

The newly unsealed complaint, filed on Wednesday, revealed previously redacted arguments from when attorneys general first sued Meta last month. It alleges that the presence of under-13s is an “open secret” at Meta and that the company is well aware that children can easily lie about their age to sign up for Facebook and Instagram. The lawsuit states that Meta “routinely violates” the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 by targeting children and collecting their information without parental consent.

Additionally, the lawsuit argues that Meta’s platforms manipulate young users into spending unhealthy amounts of time on the apps, promote body dysmorphia, and expose them to potentially harmful content. When the lawsuit was first filed, a Meta spokesperson expressed disappointment and stated that the company shares the attorneys general’s commitment to providing teens with safe online experiences.

Earlier this month, Meta published a blog post calling for federal legislation to put more responsibility on parents when it comes to kids’ app downloads. The company’s global head of safety proposed a requirement for parents to have approval power over downloads for kids under 16.