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Judge orders Meta to detail policies about minors on app

Updated May 29, 2024 - 3:21 pm

A Las Vegas judge on Wednesday ordered Meta Platforms to provide more information to the state about its policies and procedures regarding children and their use of social media.

District Judge Joanna Kishner oversaw a hearing regarding a complaint the state of Nevada filed against Meta, alleging its algorithms have been designed to deliberately addict young people.

The case is part of Attorney General Aaron Ford’s lawsuits filed in January against Meta-owned social media platforms Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, as well as the social media companies TikTok and Snapchat.

Meta must provide information in 45 days on its policies for removing children under 13 from its platforms, as well as if they track how many children use the platforms dating back to 2017. Once the attorneys representing the state have those documents, they will go to California to take employees’ depositions, according to Attorney Michael Gayan, representing the state of Nevada.

One central piece of the puzzle, however, is whether or not the District Court has authority to hear the case.

Meta’s attorneys argue the court does not have jurisdiction, as Meta is not only a national but a global company. Lawyers for the state argue that Meta operates a business license in Nevada and has users who live in the state.

Kishner deferred making a decision on the jurisdictional issue Wednesday until she receives more information she needs to apply to the legal test to decide if she has jurisdiction.

Kishner also is considering a motion from the state asking the court to restrain Meta from using end-to-end encryption on its Messenger app when used by people under 18. Meta raised the issue of jurisdiction in that motion. Before a decision can be made on the end-to-end encryption, Kishner must first determine if she has jurisdiction. Meta made a similar argument about a lack of jurisdiction in the case overall and filed a motion to dismiss.

At a two-day hearing in March, Kishner heard arguments about the company’s policies regarding Messenger. The state’s witnesses described how Messenger is a preferred method for child predators to interact with Nevada minors because of its end-to-end encryption feature, while Meta’s representatives argued that the encryption is used by many other social media platforms and is considered more secure and private. Antigone Davis, the global head of safety for Meta, described the work Meta does to protect children on their apps.

The company plans to file motions to dismiss in the other lawsuits the state filed against Facebook and Instagram, according to Attorney Tamara “Tammy” Peterson.

Parties discussed using a “special master” to oversee the compiling evidence portion of the case. They also discussed whether to consolidate the cases filed against Meta’s other platforms for Kishner to hear, rather than having three separate judges hearing each case. Gayan requested the cases be coordinated together with the exception of a trial.

Peterson said that because she filed motions to dismiss, “it’s really hard for me to conceptualize that there will ever be a trial.”

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on X.

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