Ten state attorney generals’ offices have launched a joint investigation exploring whether Meta, formerly known as Facebook, broke consumer protection laws in its attempt to attract minors to its platforms, such as Instagram. The states include California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, and Vermont. Prosecutors leading the investigation have stated they are investigating if and how Meta violated various state consumer protection laws regarding data collection and advertisement to minors.
This investigation follows a series of reports—many prompted by whistleblower Frances Haugen and the trove of internal documents she took from Facebook—that Meta’s own internal research showed that Instagram harmed minors’ mental health. The reports led to a round of congressional hearings that have prompted questions on if and how federal regulators should respond. This development highlights the importance for businesses to consider not only how they advertise to and collect data of minors under various federal regulatory regimes, such as COPPA, but also how state-based privacy and consumer protection laws impact their operations and marketing strategies. Stay tuned for developments of this investigation and what regulatory privacy guidance emerges this joint investigation.
Sources: CBS News and Law360