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Jackley Sues to Crack Down on Meta’s Unchecked Surveillance Capitalism

Thank goodness South Dakota has a liberal Attorney General. During his first stint as South Dakota’s top lawyer, Marty Jackley helped expand government by winning South Dakota the right to reach across its borders and wring sales tax out of remote online vendors. Now Jackley is pursuing the liberal goal of whacking Meta/Facebook for pursuing its capitalist ends and creating a product that lots of young people want to use.

Attorney General Jackley announced last week that he has signed South Dakota on with 32 other states, led by liberal California, to sue Meta in federal court for deliberately addicting (I’m surprised Jackley and the complaint don’t say grooming) adolescents to Facebook and Instagram. On face, the lawsuit sounds like the same argument we could make about any publisher or broadcaster that makes money from advertising:

First, Meta’s business model is based on maximizing the time that young users spend on its Social Media Platforms. Meta targets young users and incentivizes its employees to develop ways to increase the time that young users spend on its Platforms. The more time young users spend on Instagram and Facebook, the more Meta earns by selling advertising targeted to those users.

Second, consistent with this business model, Meta has developed and refined a set of psychologically manipulative Platform features designed to maximize young users’ time spent on its Social Media Platforms. Meta was aware that young users’ developing brains are particularly vulnerable to certain forms of manipulation, and it chose to exploit those vulnerabilities through targeted features such as: (a) dopamine-manipulating recommendation algorithms; (b) “Likes” and social comparison features known by Meta to harm young users; (c) audiovisual and haptic alerts that incessantly recall young users to Meta’s Social Media Platforms while at school and during the night; (d) visual filter features known to promote young users’ body dysmorphia; and (e) content-presentation formats, such as infinite scroll, designed to discourage young users’ attempts to self-regulate and disengage with Meta’s Platforms. [Attorneys General, complaint, States v. Meta, U.S. District Court for Northern California, 2023.10.24, p. 7].

And we never sued the television networks for Saturday morning cartoons, or Nickelodeon for all-day kids’ programming?

The actual lawbreaking cited by the attorneys general consists of lying about the harms social media can do to adolescents in violation of 29 states’ consumer protection laws against unfair and/or deceptive practices (including consumer protection laws in liberal California, New York, Illinois, and Minnesota and more conservative Kansas, Nebraska, and North Dakota; Attorney General Jackley apparently could not find any South Dakota consumer protection laws to throw at Meta), collecting kids’ personal data without parental permission in violation of the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, and “unlawful acts under common law principles.”

Jackley and his friends do hint at a useful critique of the surveillance-capitalism monster. They note that Facebook and Instagram aren’t “free”—Meta “charges its users by collecting their data and time, which Meta then converts into advertising dollars” [complaint, p. 10]. That’s the fundamental danger to all consumers, young and old, that Shoshana Zuboff sees in the 21st-century information economy: capitalism now extracts human beings’ experience to produce benefits not for the humans who provide that valuable data but to corporate clients who further manipulate those humans and deny them their free will.

Checking surveillance capitalism, especially against more easily manipulable children, could be good for humanity. But checking capitalism requires government regulation. Jackley and his one-party regime have regularly preached unchecked capitalism back in South Dakota, but as was the case with increasing sales tax, Jackley is willing to go to court to expand government power.


  1. sx123 2023-10-30 07:07

    Kids? Ha, how about adults?
    The amount of time adults spend endlessly scrolling through stupid Facebook memes and ‘pray for me’ posts is incredible.

    Kids do Tik Tok.

  2. Ben Cerwinske 2023-10-30 08:10

    While I agree that minors are more vulnerable to being harmed by social media, sx123 makes a point I also agree with. Especially when it comes to people of my parents generation who were the ones always warning/complaining about video games and not believing everything you read/see on TV, the internet, etc. They were largely right of course, but largely haven’t followed their own advice.

  3. Edwin Arndt 2023-10-30 09:08

    I’m not really clear on how my free will is denied.

  4. larry kurtz 2023-10-30 09:41

    South Dakota’s senior US Senator conspired with Mark Zuckerberg and Robert Mercer to hijack the 2016 election for Donald Trump.

    Senator John Thune (earth hater-SD) went to DC as one of America’s least wealthy politicians but after nearly two decades in the swamp and helping to pack the Federal Communications Commission with Trump stooges he’s rich.

  5. P. Aitch 2023-10-30 09:50

    Meta infects kids while X infects adults. X is much, much worse because adults vote and some vote with distorted, distracted, and disingenuous information. (Cory doesn’t do Facebook but is seen daily on X, which I deleted the day Musk bought it.)
    In pertinent news:
    President Biden’s long-awaited executive order on AI, which dropped at 5 a.m. today, requires developers of the most powerful systems to share internal testing data — usually kept private — with the government.

    Why it matters: This is a significant transparency-boosting step that may not be welcomed by the secretive industry, Axios’ Maria Curi and Ashley Gold report.

    Reality check: The Biden administration recognizes executive orders can’t replace legislation and continues to call on Congress to pass a law governing AI safety.

  6. O 2023-10-30 11:19

    Edwin, I believe your free will comes into conflict with a product made to addict the user. Cigarette, alcohol, oxycontin, all are bad on face for your health, but it is that addiction that increases the concern — especially for children. We have re-wired an entire generation’s brains with social media and addiction. Banning cell phones/social media and sugar would see student’s school success skyrocket.

  7. Edwin Arndt 2023-10-30 20:00

    Well O, how do you propose to do any of those things in a free country?
    We can also try to teach children discipline, difficult as it may be.

  8. jkl 2023-10-30 20:29

    I’m addicted to DFP, and sometimes I don’t act my best.

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-10-31 05:46

    JKL, I look forward to Jackley’s lawsuit against me for causing you this distress. I’ve obviously engaged in a long plot to manipulate you and thousands of other South Dakotans into addiction. ;-)

  10. P. Aitch 2023-10-31 07:54

    For A.G. Jackley from the witch Trobairitz on All Hallowed Dead Day
    ~ Political blogs can be addictive for several reasons. Firstly, they provide a platform for individuals to voice their opinions and engage in discussions about political topics. This gives people a sense of validation and belonging, as they can connect with like-minded individuals who share their beliefs, creating a sense of community. Additionally, political blogs often present information in a highly engaging and polarizing manner, using attention-grabbing headlines and provocative language to capture readers’ attention and keep them coming back for more.

    However, political blogs can also be dangerous and dismissive of minorities. One reason for this is the phenomenon of echo chambers. Political blogs often attract a specific demographic that aligns with the blog’s ideology. As a result, readers may be exposed to a biased and one-sided narrative, further entrenching their existing beliefs without critically examining alternative perspectives. This can lead to the dismissal of different viewpoints, including those of marginalized communities, and hinder constructive dialogue.

    Furthermore, the anonymity and lack of accountability on many political blogs can embolden individuals to express hateful, discriminatory, or dismissive views towards minorities. The relative ease and speed of disseminating content on these platforms also facilitates the spread of misinformation, which can further marginalize and harm targeted groups. Political bloggers may engage in cherry-picking information, oversimplifying complex issues, or using divisive rhetoric to manipulate public opinion, contributing to a climate that dismisses or devalues the experiences and concerns of minorities.

    It is essential to recognize that not all political blogs exhibit these negative traits, and there are many responsible bloggers who strive to promote inclusivity, diversity, and respectful discourse. However, it is crucial for readers to approach political blogs critically, seek out diverse perspectives, verify information, and challenge their own biases to foster a more inclusive and informed political discourse.
    – 👽 Ⓟ.Δ𝕚𝐭cℍ 🍬☆

  11. leslie 2023-10-31 12:17

    Edwin, you do not understand addiction. It trumps free will. Spend some time on Your simple statement, and your right wing anti-government indoctrination ignoring facts and science, itself an addictive process, gives little hope for your actual, responsible membership and contribution within our modern society. Probably best to keep your uninformed thoughts to yourself. Sorry.

    Sometimes age brings wisdom. But addiction of the human brain is VERY complex. The chemical processes that keep humans and animals eating, procreating, fighting or flighting, even breathing, are highjacked by every form of addiction. Corporations know this, study this, and exploit it. 18% of Americans have substance abuse disorders (1 in 5!). 2019 study. That is a lot of consumers of addictive products! Tobacco, alcohol, legal and illegal drugs, sex, internet, Fox News…the list goes on and on of what can hijack our brains….Free will is a myth. Dangerous capitalism is not.

  12. O 2023-10-31 13:30

    Edwin, I realize my solution was flippant, but at its core essential. Parents choose to purchase phones and plans for their children. They send these children to school with these phones and act surprised when phones become a problem in school. For all the GOP talking points about parental rights, we in the school would love to see a good deal more parental responsibility.

    As for the sugar, see above and what parents choose to serve to their children. There is also large government subsidy for cheap, less-nutrition foods to schools and grocery stores. Cut those sugar subsidies — even the corn syrup subsidies. Put price supports toward healthy foods — especially for those in poverty. Mountain Dew should not cost less than milk.

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