Child Safety Lawsuits Against Meta

Mr. Neeraj Soni
Mr. Neeraj Soni
Researcher - Policy & Advocacy, CyberPeace
Oct 30, 2023


In today's era of digitalised community and connections, social media has become an integral part of our lives. A large number of teenagers are also active and have their accounts on social media. They use social media to connect with their friends and family. Social media offers ease to connect and communicate with larger communities and even showcase your creativity. On the other hand, it also poses some challenges or issues such as inappropriate content, online harassment, online stalking, misuse of personal information, abusive and dishearted content etc. There could be unindented consequences on teenagers' mental health by such threats or overuse of social media. The data shows some teens spend hours a day on social media hence it has a larger impact on them whether we notice it or not.  Social media addiction and its negative repercussions such as overuse of social media by teens and online threats and vulnerabilities is a growing concern that needs to be taken seriously by social media platforms, regulatory policies and even user's responsibilities. Recently Colorado and California led a joint lawsuit filed by 33 states in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against meta on the concern of child safety.

Meta and concern of child users safety

Recently Meta, the company that owns Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger, has been sued by more than three dozen states for allegedly using features to hook children to its platforms. The lawsuit claims that Meta violated consumer protection laws and deceived users about the safety of its platforms. The states accuse Meta of designing manipulative features to induce young users' compulsive and extended use, pushing them into harmful content. However, Meta has responded by stating that it is working to provide a safer environment for teenagers and expressing disappointment in the lawsuit.

According to the complaint filed by the states, Meta “designed psychologically manipulative product features to induce young users’ compulsive and extended use" of platforms like Instagram. The states allege that Meta's algorithms were designed to push children and teenagers into rabbit holes of toxic and harmful content, with features like "infinite scroll" and persistent alerts used to hook young users. However, meta responded with disappointment with a lawsuit stating that meta working productively with companies across the industry to create clear, age-appropriate standards for the many apps.

Unplug for sometime

Overuse of social media is associated with increased mental health repercussions along with online threats and risks. Social media’s effect on teenagers is driven by factors such as inadequate sleep, exposure to cyberbullying and online threats and lack of physical activity. Its admitted that social media can help teens feel more connected to their friends and their support system and showcase their creativity to the online world.  However, social media overuse by teens is often linked with underlying issues that require attention. To help teenagers, encourage them for responsible use and unplug from social media for some time, encourage them to get outside in nature, do physical activities, and express themselves creatively.  

Understanding the threats & risks

  • Psychological effects 
  • Addiction: Excessive use of social media will lead to procrastination and excessively using social media can lead to physical and psychological addiction because it triggers the brain's reward system. 
  • Mental Conditions Associated: Excessively using social media can be harmful for mental well-being which can also lead to depression and anxiety, self-consciousness and may also lead to social anxiety disorder.
  • Eyes, Carpal tunnel syndrome: Excessive spending time on screen may lead to put a real strain on your eyes. Eye problems caused by computer/phone screen use fall under computer vision syndrome (CVS). Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on the median nerve.
  • Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying is one of the major concerns faced in online interactions on social media. Cyberbullying takes place using the internet or other digital communication technology to bully, harass, or intimidate others and it has become a major concern of online harassment on popular social media platforms. Cyberbullying may include spreading rumours or posting hurtful comments. Cyberbullying has emerged as a phenomenon that has a socio-psychological impact on the victims. 
  • Online grooming: Online grooming is defined as the tactics abusers deploy through the internet to sexually exploit children. The average time for a bad actor to lure children into his trap is 3 minutes, which is a very alarming number. 
  • Ransomware/Malware/Spyware: Cybercrooks impose threats such as ransomware, malware and spyware by deploying malicious links on social media. This poses serious cyber threats, and it causes consequences such as financial losses, data loss, and reputation damage. Ransomware is a type of malware which is designed to deny a user or organisation access to their files on the computer. On social media, cyber crooks post malicious links which contain malware, and spyware threats. Hence it is important to be cautious before clicking on any such suspicious link.
  • Sextortion: Sextortion is a crime where the perpetrator threatens the victim and demands ransom or asks for sexual favours by threatening the victim to expose or reveal the victim’s sexual activity. It is a kind of sexual blackmail, it may take place on social media and youngsters are mostly targeted. The cyber crooks also misuse the advanced AI Deepfake technology which is capable of creating realistic images or videos which in actuality are created by machine algorithms. Deepfakes technology since easily accessible, is misused by fraudsters to commit various crimes including sextortion or deceiving and scamming people through fake images or videos which look realistic. 
  • Child sexual abuse material(CSAM): CSAM is inappropriate or illicit content which is prohibited by the laws and regulatory guidelines. Child while using the internet if encounters age-restricted or inappropriate content which may be harmful to them child. Through regulatory guidelines, internet service providers are refrained from hosting the CSAM content on the websites and blocking such inappropriate or CSAM content. 
  • In App purchases: The teen user also engages in-app purchases on social media or online gaming where they might fall into financial fraud or easy money scams. Where fraudster targets through offering exciting job offers such as part-time job, work-from-home job, small investments, liking content on social media, and earning money out of this. This has been prevalent on social media and fraudsters target innocent people ask for their personal and financial information, and commit financial fraud by scamming people on the pretext of offering exciting offers.

Safety tips:

To stay safe while using social media teens or users are encouraged to follow the best practices and stay aware of the online threats. Users must keep in regard to the best practices. Such as;

  • Safe web browsing.
  • Utilising privacy settings of your social media accounts.
  • Using strong passwords and enabling two-factor authentication.
  • Be careful about what you post or share.
  • Becoming familiar with the privacy policy of the social media platforms.
  • Being selective of adding unknown users to your social media network.
  • Reporting any suspicious activity to the platform or relevant forum.


Child safety is a major concern on social media platforms. Social media-related offences such as cyberstalking, hacking, online harassment and threats, sextortion, and financial fraud are seen as the most occurring cyber crimes on social media. The tech giants must ensure the safety of teen users on social media by implementing and adopting the best mechanisms on the platform. CyberPeace Foundation is working towards advocating for a Child-friendly SIM to protect from the illicit influence of the internet and Social Media. 


Oct 30, 2023
No items found.

Related Blogs