Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen is suing Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, claiming that Instagram was intentionally designed to be addictive and that some of the content available on the popular social media platform violates the state’s consumer protection laws.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court earlier this week, is the state’s latest attempt at taking social media companies to task. This past spring, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a bill prohibiting app stores from offering TikTok for download. That bill is currently on hold from being implemented after a U.S. District Judge issued a preliminary injunction on the matter.
“Meta must be held accountable for its deceptive practices and the harm it has caused,” Knudsen said in a release. “Instagram’s intentional addictive design and its failure to address the rampant presence of harmful content on its platform, including explicit drug promotion and sexual exploitation, pose serious risks to the mental health and well-being of young Montanans.”
The suit against Meta seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction to compel Instagram to “cease it’s deceptive and unfair statements” about the amount of content available to users that depicts explicit sexual acts and drug use, according to the release. Additionally, the state could receive civil penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation because “these misrepresentations violate Montana’s Consumer Protection Act,” the attorney general’s office wrote.
“Internal documents leaked to the public show that Meta was aware of the harms it inflicted on minors, but instead of taking corrective action, the company continued to tell the parents it was a safe product for their kids to use,” Knudsen said in the release. “I am committed to safeguarding the rights and protection of Montanans: social media companies must comply with our state laws and prioritize the safety and privacy of our citizens.”