- Instagram faces lawsuits from attorneys general in 42 US states for deceptive practices that affect the mental health of young people.
- Accusations include prioritizing participation over safety, peer pressure through likes and constant notifications, and promoting problematic body ideals.
- The outcome of the case could lead to restrictions on social media.
The social network Instagram, owned by Meta, is in the middle of lawsuits with attorneys general of 42 US states.
They are being sued for carrying out practices that accusers consider deceptive and harmful to young users on Instagram and Facebook.
Reasons for the lawsuit against Instagram
Prioritizing participation over safety
One of the key allegations is that Meta designed Instagram’s algorithms to keep users engaged by displaying content based on their interests rather than in chronological order.
This is based on what are known as “variable reward programs”, which incentivize compulsive use of the platform. In other words, Instagram is designed to keep users engaged, which can be negative for teens’ mental health.
Constant social pressure and comparison
Another concern is the “Like” feature on Instagram posts, which facilitates comparison between users and promotes insecurity, according to the lawsuit.
Additionally, it is argued that Meta uses constant notifications to pressure young users to check Instagram, even when they are given the option to turn them off.
Body ideals and eating disorders
Also, Instagram is accused of promoting problematic body ideals through virtual image filters, contributing to body image problems and eating disorders in young people.
In addition, they criticize Instagram Stories, which pressure users to constantly review so as not to miss content.
Faced with these accusations, Meta spokesperson Liza Crenshaw defends the company by stating that they have introduced tools to help young users deal with academic pressure and other challenges, but she is disappointed that attorneys general have not collaborated in establishing clear standards.
Debate on how social networks can affect the mental health of young people
The outcome of the case will depend on whether Meta broke its promises to protect young people, and new laws could impose restrictions on these social networks regardless of the outcome.