Big Tech Championed Zero Emissions but Now Its Power-Hungry Data Centers are Straining the Grid

Data center

For years, tech giants in California and Washington have been leading the charge to eliminate fossil fuels from the grid. Microsoft, Google, Meta and Apple, for example, are members of Climate Group RE100, an organization of major corporations who are dedicated to accelerating “change toward zero-carbon grids at scale by 2040.”

In 2018, Apple proclaimed that it was globally powered entirely by 100 percent renewable energy.

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Uvalde Victims’ Families Slap Meta with Lawsuit: Report

Family members of the victims of a mass shooting in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, filed a lawsuit against Meta, the owner of Instagram, Friday, according to multiple reports.

Two teachers and 19 children died in the May 2022 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde before Border Patrol agents stormed the classroom and fatally shot the perpetrator. The lawsuit also targets Activision, the maker of the Call of Duty video game franchise, and Daniel Defense, which made the rifle used in the shooting, CBS News reported.

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Rubio, Consumer Advocate Want Chinese Online Retailers Investigated

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio

Lawmakers and consumer advocates are calling for a federal investigation into online Chinese retailers Temu and Shein.

The companies have spent billions of dollars in online American advertising with social media companies such as Meta, parent of Facebook and Instagram, and Google. The probe is warranted, critics say, because of anti-competitive practices skirting U.S. trade and public safety regulations; alleged use of slave laborers to make products sold at cut-rate prices; and advertising targeting children, low-income families and older Americans.

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East Tennessee Schools Sue Major Social Media Companies

Kids on tablets

More than 30 school districts in East Tennessee have joined a lawsuit first filed by Clarksville-Montgomery County School System (CMCSS) against social media companies, claiming that those companies are harming children.

According to WBIR, Knox, Anderson, Blount, Claiborne, Fentress, Grainger, Greene, Hamblen, Lenoir City, Loudon, Maryville, Oak Ridge, Oneida, and Sevier counties have joined the suit, which names eta, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Google, YouTube and WhatsApp as defendants.

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Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti Sends Letter to Meta Demanding Instagram Stop Monetizing Child Exploitation

Kids on Phone

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti has joined a coalition of 26 other state attorneys general in sending a letter to Meta, the parent company of social media giants Facebook and Instagram, demanding that Instagram stop monetizing child exploitation content.

Citing reporting from The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, the coalition of attorneys general expressed concern over news that Instagram has “actively promoted” to “likely pedophiles” content created by “adults seeking to profit from exploiting their own children.”

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Tech Companies Plan to Combat Use of Fake AI in Elections

Facebook User

As the threat of fake images and videos generated by artificial intelligence (AI) could potentially play a role in the coming 2024 elections and beyond, several tech companies have pledged to use their resources to combat misinformation as a result of such technology.

According to Politico, multiple companies are planning to cooperate through a so-called “Tech Accord” dictating several key goals and methods that will be used in the fight against false AI. The companies intend to expose and debunk any “deepfake” images or videos produced by AI, through various tactics such as watermarks and automatic detection technology.

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Sen. Blackburn Slams Big Tech Companies in Fox Interview

Sen. Marsha Blackburn Fox News

A U.S. Senator from Tennessee took to Fox News to slam Big Tech companies over the dangers their platforms pose to America’s youth. 

“You know, I wish that each one of those [tech executives] would have taken their turn at apologizing to those parents,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) told Harris Faulkner on “The Faulkner Focus.” “You look at the amount of pornographic material on X, you look at what Snap has done, connecting kids to pedophiles and drug dealers, TikTok, with the kids that have done these TikTok challenges and lost their lives, Discord which is used for chats and gaming, and kids are meeting really bad actors. Every one of them owed those parents that were in that room an apology and those kids – friends of kids – who had lost their lives that showed up wearing those t-shirts. Some were worth more than $230 which is what [Meta CEO Mark] Zuckerberg said a teen was worth to them on social media.” 

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Tennessee Attorney General Skrmetti Warns Instagram Effects ‘Catastrophic’ on Teens, Cites Unredacted Complaint Against Meta

Friends Phone

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti told The Tennessee Star in a Thursday phone interview that his office’s unredacted lawsuit against Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, shows the company is using strategies to increase Instagram user engagement which are “catastrophic” to teenage girls, and warned that other social media companies may soon land within his crosshairs.

Speaking to The Star, Skrmetti explained that his office’s unredacted complaint against Meta, which it released last week, outlines “a very sophisticated effort by a very sophisticated company to design a product that kids would have a hard time not using.” Meta’s focus on children, Skrmetti said, was motivated by a desire to keep them using the platforms into adulthood, when the company will have collected years worth of data that can be used by advertisers.

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Tennessee Attorney General Skrmetti Claims Meta Knowingly Made Instagram Addictive to Children in Unredacted Lawsuit

AG Skrmetti

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti (R) released on Wednesday the unredacted lawsuit he is leading against Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, which alleges Meta created Instagram using “deceptive and unfair business practices that are fomenting a mental health crisis in this state.”

Skrmetti stated in a press release that his office’s “complaint makes clear that Meta knew its platforms were hurting kids and made a very clear decision to choose money over the mental health of its young users.” The attorney general said that “Tennessee law protects kids from companies, big or small, that mislead and hurt them” and that the state “will continue to aggressively enforce that law.”

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Tennessee Official Says Anxiety, Depression on the Rise Among Children

An official with the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) said in a recent interview that mental illnesses among children are on the rise in the Volunteer State, as the state’s Attorney General works to tackle some of the potential root causes of those illnesses. 

“The data from all sources point to that we see increased sadness and hopelessness among high school students,” TDMHSAS Deputy Commissioner Matthew Yancey told WKRN. “We’ve seen increases in emergency room presentations related to psychiatric emergencies, increases in suicidal ideation.”

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Facebook Sees Rise in Antisemitic Posts, Censorship of Pro-Israel Content: Reports

Facebook has reportedly experienced nearly a 200 percent increase in antisemitic posts since the October 7 terrorist attacks by Hamas against Israel, and a U.S. Senator recently wrote to the social media platform’s parent company, Meta, about reports it is censoring pro-Israel content.

Antisemitism monitoring technology company Cyberwell recently warned of a dramatic increase in antisemitic posts and posts that call for violence against Jewish people across all social media websites, claiming social media companies were unprepared to confront “national security issues” posed by the Hamas attacks.

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Prosecutors Say Former Facebook DEI Executive ‘Abused a Position of Trust’ When Defrauding Company $4 Million

Facebook Money

Barbara Furlow-Smiles, a Georgia resident and former Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) executive at Facebook, admitted on Tuesday to defrauding the company of more than $4 million from 2017 until 2021.

Federal prosecutors say Furlow-Smiles “abused a position of trust as a global diversity executive” to steal “millions of dollars” from Facebook while “ignoring the insidious consequences of undermining the importance of her DEI mission.”

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New Mexico Sues Facebook and Instagram for Hosting Child Sexual Abuse, Solicitation, and Trafficking Content

New Mexico is suing Facebook and Instagram for creating “prime locations” for sexual predators to share child sexual abuse, solicitation, and trafficking content.

NM Attorney General Raúl Torrez filed a civil suit filed against Meta and CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, alleging that “certain child exploitative content” is ten times “more prevalent” on Facebook and Instagram than on pornography site PornHub and the adult content platform OnlyFans.

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Meta Is Allowing Political Ads That Question the 2020 Election — But Censoring Doubts About 2024

Meta’s social media platforms now allow political ads questioning the 2020 presidential election, but will censor ads questioning the 2024 election, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

The company permits fraud claims about past elections but not current or future ones, according to its updated policy. Meta rolled out the policy after blocking certain Republicans during the 2022 midterm election primaries from releasing ads with assertions about the 2020 election being fraudulent, according to the WSJ.

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Meta to Start Labeling Political Ads with AI-Generated Images Ahead of 2024 Election

Facebook and Instagram will require political ads on their platforms to disclose if they were created with artificial intelligence so they can be labeled as such, Meta, the parent company of the social media giants, announced Wednesday.

The new policy, which will take effect worldwide Jan. 1, will place labels acknowledging the use of artificial intelligence on users’ screens when they click on the advertisements, according to The Associated Press. 

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Sen. Blackburn: Whistleblower Has ‘Irrefutable Evidence’ Facebook Serves Harmful Content to Kids, Hid Data from Congress

Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said on Friday that a whistleblower formerly employed by Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and Threads, provided “irrefutable evidence” the social media giant knowingly serves harmful content to children on its platforms.

Blackburn released a bipartisan statement with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) on Friday after speaking with whistleblower Arturo Bejar, a former employee and consultant for Meta, which was then Facebook. He alleged the company willfully ignored data proving children are regularly served to content that glorifies drug use and eating disorders, and are subjected to sexual harassment and bullying on the company’s platforms.

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Attorney General Skrmetti Leading Coalition of More than 40 States in Suing Meta over Children’s Mental Health

Tennessee’s Attorney General is leading a bipartisan coalition of 42 states in suing Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, alleging that Instagram causes mental health harms to its young users.

“Meta has known for years that Instagram causes psychological harm to young users,” said General Skrmetti in a Tuesday press release. “Rather than take steps to reduce or disclose the harm, Meta leaned further in to its profit-maximizing approach that hurts kids.  Targeting kids with a harmful product and lying about its safety violates the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. Meta knows every last design decision that made Instagram addictive to kids and that means it knows exactly how to fix the problem. We’re suing to make the company fix the problem.”

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Meta’s Oversight Board Rules That Company Stifled Speech by Removing Posts About Abortion

Meta’s Oversight Board ruled Wednesday that Facebook and Instagram showed “patterns of censorship” by removing posts about abortion that the social media platforms claimed constituted death threats.

The board had been weighing a series of posts that were initially taken down by Meta, Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, for potential death threats against both pro-abortion and pro-life advocates before being reinstated after appeals from the users. The board took up the case in June and announced this week that Facebook had erred by removing the posts, according to the ruling.

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Meta’s Epidemic of Chinese ‘Spamouflage’ Propaganda

Meta recently took “what appears to be the largest known cross-platform covert influence operation in the world,” off its platforms, according to the company’s quarterly Adversarial Threat Report released this week.’

The social media accounts that made up the covert influence operation — collectively dubbed “Spamouflage” — were active all over the world, including in America, major U.S. allies, Taiwan, and the Chinese diaspora.

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House Judiciary Committee Questions Zuckerberg on Potential Censorship on Threads

The House Judiciary Committee on Monday sent a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerburg asking questions about possible censorship occurring on Threads, Meta’s latest social media platform.

“Given that Meta has censored First Amendment-protected speech as a result of government agencies’ requests and demands in the past, the Committee is concerned about potential First Amendment violations that have occurred or will occur on the Threads platform,” Committee chairman Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican, wrote in the letter.

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Florida AG Moody Calls on Zuckerberg to Respond to ‘Stunning’ Number of Human Trafficking Cases on Meta Platforms

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody on Monday called on Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg to appear before the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking to account for how Meta is being used to facilitate human trafficking and sex exploitation.

Moody did so while announcing what she described as the “stunning” and “disturbing” findings of a statewide investigation that found that Meta platforms are being used more than any other social media platforms by human traffickers to commit crimes.

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Meta Scraps Censorship Policies for COVID ‘Misinformation’

Facebook parent company Meta is officially terminating its COVID-19 censorship policies in the U.S., the tech giant told The Washington Post.

Meta has repeatedly tamped down on COVID-19 “misinformation” in the U.S. and even faced pressure from the White House to engage in content suppression. Although the tech giant is done moderating this content in the U.S., it will continue restricting content “in countries that have a Covid-19 public health emergency declaration” due to “the risk of imminent physical harm,” Meta told the Post.

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Maricopa County Republican Committee Censored on Facebook for Sharing Post Regarding Liberal Bias on the Internet

Facebook parent company Meta took down a post relating to research on the liberal bias on the internet shared by the Maricopa County Republican Committee on Friday.

According to the county, the post shared support for Dr. Robert Epstein’s research on Google’s liberal bias and linked to mygoogleresearch.com, a website featuring his works and requesting donations. The post also related to the American Institute of Behavioral Research and Technology (AIBRT), founded by Epstein. However, Facebook claimed the link violates community standards.

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Tennessee School District Sues Big Tech Giants, Claims Social Media Harmful to Children

According to multiple Thursday reports, the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System (CMCSs) is filing a lawsuit against several Silicon Valley titans of industry, claiming that social media is having a debilitating effect on its students.

The Frantz Law Group of California, working with the Tennessee law firm Lewis Thomason, filed the lawsuit the week of May 8, according to ClarksvilleNow.com. The defendants in the suit include Facebook, Google, Instagram, Meta, Snapchat, TikTok, WhatsApp and YouTube. 

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Hundreds of Former Federal Surveillance Officials Have Moved to Jobs in Big Tech

Over 200 former employees of federal surveillance agencies have since joined the corporate ranks of Big Tech companies in recent years, thus increasing the likelihood of systematic censorship of conservative accounts by such platforms.

According to the Daily Caller, the four social media companies Google, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok have recruited 248 former employees from the FBI, CIA, Department of Justice (DOJ), and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), as proven by searches of the professional job listing and networking platform LinkedIn. The bulk of these hires were made between 2017 and 2022, with some of the former federal employees moving on to top executive positions within the social media companies.

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Meta to Reinstate Trump’s Facebook, Instagram Accounts

Social media giant Meta announced Wednesday that it would reinstate former President Donald Trump\’s accounts on both Facebook and Instagram. The former president was suspended from both platforms in the aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2022, Capitol Riot. Other social media platforms such as Twitter acted likewise, prompting Trump to create Truth Social, a digital platform similar to Twitter that practiced looser content moderation than its competitors.

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Regulator Fines Tech Giant Millions for Showing Targeted Ads Based on User Activity

An Irish data privacy regulator has issued fines totaling €390 million — roughly $410 million — against Facebook and Instagram parent Meta over practices related to its monitoring of users’ behavior on its services in order to create targeted ads, according to a Wednesday press release by the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC).

Meta had previously argued to the commission that it had the right to tailor ads to users based on their online activity because the Terms of Service that users agreed to to use the service amounted to a contract, and that gathering this personalized data was a core part of that contract, according to the DPC. Although the DPC originally agreed with this argument, it reversed its position after other European regulators challenged this view during a standard peer review process, finding that Meta was “not entitled” to consider the Terms of Service agreement as sufficient legal basis for its actions.

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Meta Agrees to Record-Breaking Settlement in Data Privacy Lawsuit

Facebook parent Meta signed on to a $725 million settlement to potentially close out a class-action lawsuit over the sharing of user data with third parties, such as the Trump-aligned campaign consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, according to a Thursday court filing.

The case centers around allegations that the company shared users’ data with third parties without their consent, something the plaintiffs’ lawyers say has been significantly cut back since litigation began, according to the filing. The scandal first broke in 2018, after it was revealed that Facebook had shared roughly 87 million users’ data with Cambridge Analytica via a personality quiz, according to The Verge.

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Meta’s ‘Unequal’ Moderation Policy Protects Elites on Facebook and Instagram: Report

Meta’s Oversight Board criticized the social media giant for unfairly favoring certain elite users of Facebook and Instagram, granting them amnesty from certain rules, and failing to publicly disclose the program’s extent.

Meta’s “cross-check” program is supposed to minimize the number of posts Facebook and Instagram incorrectly take down, by having a human review posts by certain “powerful” users when they are found to be violating the rules, according to the Oversight Board. The Board found that, in practice, cross-check protected these accounts, allowing their content to remain up even when it was in violation of the sites’ rules and helping favored accounts receive reduced punishments for infractions, all the while repeatedly failing to detail to the public and the Board which accounts and posts were subject to this policy.

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Documents Show AG Ellison Spoke at Conference Partially Funded by Companies He’s Investigating

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison claims to be the “People’s Lawyer.” But documents say he spoke at a lavish Hawaii retreat in June 2021 partially funded by companies he’s investigating, including Meta and Google.

A 2021 retreat agenda of the Attorney General Alliance says Ellison participated in a lunch conversation at the Grand Wailea hotel with New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas about managing high-profile criminal matters.

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Government Officials Have a Special Portal to Flag Facebook Posts for Censorship

The Department of Homeland Security has left open a special feature that allows government officials to flag Facebook posts for misinformation after scrapping a controversial advisory board tasked with developing guidelines for social media censorship, the Intercept reported Monday.

DHS announced plans for a Disinformation Governance Board to “develop guidelines, standards, guardrails to ensure that the work that has been ongoing for nearly 10 years does not infringe on people’s free speech rights, rights of privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in May, according to The Hill. While DHS shuttered the initiative after an onslaught of bipartisan opposition decrying the potential censorship, the Intercept found through an analysis of public and leaked documents that government efforts to police tech companies goes on.

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Russia Moves to Declare Facebook Parent Company an ‘Extremist Organization,’ Ban Instagram

Russian prosecutors asked a court to classify Facebook parent company Meta as “extremist” Friday, escalating tensions between Russia and the tech giant after Facebook was blocked in the country.

The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office asked a court to declare the tech giant an “extremist organization,” saying the company engaged in spreading “propaganda” and incited violence against the Russian people, Interfax reported. The move would effectively criminalize all of Meta’s operations in Russia, according to Reuters.

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Trucker ‘Freedom Convoy’ Sparks More Controversy After GoFundMe Refunds $10 Million

A Canadian movement of truckers protesting the country’s vaccine mandate has inspired a similar protest in the U.S., with a convoy expected to arrive at the nation’s capital next month. That movement, though, sparked controversy beyond its protest this weekend after a run-in with the popular online fundraiser, GoFundMe.

GoFundMe announced it would refund more than $10 million in donations to donors of the “Freedom Convoy” online fundraiser after threats of a fraud investigation from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. DeSantis threatened the investigation after GoFundMe reportedly froze the fundraising account Friday and said they would give the funds to another charity of Freedom Convoy’s choice.

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Amazon and Facebook Spent More Money Than Ever Lobbying in 2021

Amazon and Facebook parent company Meta spent more money in 2021 lobbying lawmakers and officials than any year before, according to lobbying disclosure filings.

Amazon spent $20.3 million on lobbying while Meta spent $20.1 million in 2021, according to a review of lobbying disclosure filings by MarketWatch. The figures are record totals for both tech companies, who spent $18.9 million and $19.7 million on lobbying in 2020, respectively.

Google’s lobbying spend for 2021 clocked in at $11.5 million, while Microsoft spent $10.3 million and Apple spent $6.5 million, according to MarketWatch’s review.

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Facebook Parent Company Will Make Its Office Workers Get the Vaccine Booster

Facebook parent company Meta will require its in-person workers to receive a booster shot in addition to a COVID-19 vaccine, the company announced Monday.

By March 28, Meta employees must have received the booster to use the in-person offices of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, The Wall Street Journal reported. Meta is reportedly delaying the reopening of its offices until late March due to the requirement.

“We’re focused on making sure our employees continue to have choices about where they work given the current COVID-19 landscape,” Janelle Gale, Meta’s vice president of human resources, said in a statement, CNBC reported. “We understand that the continued uncertainty makes this a difficult time to make decisions about where to work, so we’re giving more time to choose what works best for them.”

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State Attorney Generals Launch Investigation into Instagram’s Effects on Kids

Young person on Instagram

A bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general launched a probe into Instagram on Thursday to examine whether the company violated state-level consumer protection laws.

The states are investigating whether Meta (formerly known as Facebook), which owns Instagram, promoted the image-sharing platform “to children and young adults” despite being aware of its negative effects, according to statements from the attorneys general. The probe cites internal Facebook communications and research leaked by former Facebook employee Frances Haugen and published by The Wall Street Journal showing Meta was aware that use of Instagram could contribute to body image and mental health issues among teens.

“When social media platforms treat our children as mere commodities to manipulate for longer screen time engagement and data extraction, it becomes imperative for state attorneys general to engage our investigative authority under our consumer protection laws,” Republican Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said in a statement.

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Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody Investigating Meta/Facebook Marketing Practices Related to Minors

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) announced she is launching an investigation against Meta, the company previously known as Facebook before its recent rebrand. Moody is joining seven other attorneys general in launching an investigation into its targeted marketing practices toward children and teenagers.

“We have serious concerns about how social media is impacting the lives of young people in this country, and as a mother, I want to know how Facebook/Meta is targeting youth and what strategies this Big Tech giant is using to entice children and teens to lengthen engagement on its platforms,” Moody said in an official statement. “I am proud to lead these efforts with our partner states to find out if Meta violated any consumer protection laws and put our children at risk.”

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Facebook Changes Its Name to ‘Meta’

Illustration of two people looking out on a design of Meta, Facebook's new name

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg announced Thursday the tech giant was changing its name to “Meta.”

Zuckerberg announced the name change at the Facebook Connect 2021 conference. The new name reflects Zuckerberg’s goal to reorient his social media company to a technology conglomerate with several different products beyond the Facebook social network, focusing on “metaverse” technology. 

The “metaverse” is a virtual environment in which individuals can interact with one another through avatars and across multiple platforms and devices. Facebook called it a “new phase of interconnected virtual experiences using technologies like virtual and augmented reality” in which people interacting online can become much closer to the experience of interacting in person.”

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