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USA: Montana AG files federal lawsuit against Meta for consumer protection violations

On December 4, 2023, Montana Attorney General (AG), Austin Knudsen announced that the State had filed a lawsuit against Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, in federal court. The lawsuit alleges that Instagram's content misrepresentations violate Montana's consumer protection laws and that its data collection practices violate federal law.

What does the lawsuit allege?

Specifically, the suit claims that:

  • Meta violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by collecting information from children on Instagram without first obtaining informed parental consent;
  • despite Instagram's addictive nature, Meta has misrepresented Instagram as safe for users under the age of 17;
  • Instagram's content, which depicts drug and alcohol use, sexual content, nudity, and profanity, is misrepresented as being less frequent and severe than it is; and
  • Instagram's age ratings are low in various online marketplaces, and its Community Guidelines, give deceptive assurances about the safety of the content.

What remedies does the lawsuit seek?

The lawsuit seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction to compel Instagram to:

  • comply with COPPA's parental consent provisions;
  • cease its misrepresentations about the frequency and severity of mature content, and profanity on the Instagram platform; and
  • cease its allegedly inaccurate age ratings in the App Store and other online marketplaces, and its public assurances in the Instagram Community Guidelines and elsewhere.

The AG explained that because the alleged misrepresentations violated Montana's Consumer Protection Act, the State may receive civil penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation. 

You can read the press release here.