Oct 24 (Reuters) – Dozens of U.S. states are suing Meta Platforms (META.O) and its Instagram unit, accusing them of fueling a youth mental health crisis by making their social media platforms addictive.

In a complaint filed on Tuesday, the attorneys general of 33 states including California and New York said Meta, which also operates Facebook, repeatedly misled the public about the dangers of its platforms, and knowingly induced young children and teenagers into addictive and compulsive social media use.

“Meta has harnessed powerful and unprecedented technologies to entice, engage, and ultimately ensnare youth and teens,” according to the complaint filed in the Oakland, California federal court. “Its motive is profit.”

Children have long been an appealing demographic for businesses, which hope to attract them as consumers at ages when they may be more impressionable, and solidify brand loyalty.

For Meta, younger consumers may help secure more advertisers who hope children will keep buying their products as they grow up.

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