TOPEKA (KSNT) – Kansas, along with more than three dozen other states, is signing on with a lawsuit against Meta in regard to children’s privacy and health.
The lawsuit claims that Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and other social media apps violate protection laws for younger users.
“It promotes body dysmorphia which is thinking your body is not good, that you’re not thin enough or whatever,” Kansas Deputy Attorney General for Public Protection Fran Oleen said. “Also eating disorders, it promotes eating disorders and potentially self-harm. And Meta knows that, and they can use that information to help educate parents, caregivers, government entities to help our children and instead they’re using it to make money.”
While this lawsuit is asking for money damages, that isn’t the most important thing that Oleen says they’re looking to get out of this lawsuit.
“Most important thing that we want is for Meta to stop incentivizing children to stay on these apps to their harm,” Oleen said. “In other words stop encouraging children to stay on these apps to look at this very harmful information and to stop allowing users under 13 to be on these apps without parental consent.”
Although the target audience in this lawsuit is for those under 13, Oleen believes damage to one’s health can go much further than the youth.
“Of course our focus is children, but as with any addictive substance, if you get the children addicted then when they are 18 or 30, they’re still gonna be using that platform,” Oleen said.
For Megan Dorantes, a Washburn University senior, while she says she didn’t grow up with social media, she did grow up when it started to become popular. So, she’s seen the impact it can have on ones mental health.
“When they start posting stuff on Instagram or social media, however many likes they get, however many views they get can be interpreted as ‘Oh I’m seen as a good-looking person, or Oh no one really wants to look at me’,” Dorantes said.
While Dorantes see’s the negative impact of social media, she also believes it can be beneficial.
“Social media in itself can be a really good thing for finding new opportunities, for finding new outlets to express yourself, but I think it’s also important to take social media in with moderation,”Dorantes said. “If you’re spending like seven hours hyper focusing on like, ‘Oh did this person like my post or not,’ that’s when we start to lose who we are as a person.”
While this case isn’t as much about money rather than getting Meta to protect children’s privacy, Oleen tells 27 News if they can prove violations, it is 10,000 dollars per offense.