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Jane Bambauer Comments on Lawsuit Against Meta Alleging Its Social Media Platforms Exploit Young People

Jane Bambauer, Brechner Eminent Scholar and the director of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, was quoted in “First They Came for Facebook and Instagram; Will Your Favorite Site be Next?” published in the New Jersey Star Ledger on Oct. 29.

The article focuses on a lawsuit by attorneys general in 42 states against Meta, the company that owns the popular social media platforms Facebook and Instagram. The suit charges that Meta exploits young people.

According to Bambauer, “I don’t think the states will be able to clear the constitutional hurdle unless they have a solid, and evidence-based, answer to the following question: given that every speaker who ever lived wanted to engage an audience, how can a social media company know with confidence how much, or what type, of engagement is “too much”?

“By way of comparison, the news business (especially the 24-hour news cycle) could be accused of similar mental health risks, and we have long known that content is selected in part because it prompts an emotional and habit-forming response in the audience. (‘If it bleeds, it ledes.’) Would we entertain similar government interventions into the news media?” said Bambauer.

She adds, “I am sympathetic to these claims– I think there is a lot of instinctive reasons to believe, along with a growing body of evidence, that social media causes some harms to some young users. But unless the states are ready to ban the use of social media among teenagers the line between engagement and ‘too much’ engagement is too hard to discern at this time.”

Posted: November 3, 2023
Category: AI at CJC News, College News, Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project News
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