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41 U.S States sue Facebook & Instagram Over Mental Health

PLUS: driverless cabs banned, "tip fatigue" is real, and the Canadian housing crisis explained.

Welcome to the Level Ups. Modern business news in plain-Jane English.

Today, we cover:

  • 41 U.S. states sue Facebook & Instagram over teens’ mental health

  • California bans robotaxis over safety concerns.

  • Is tipping out of control? Tip fatigue is real.

  • The Canadian Housing Crisis Explained

Let’s get into it.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes & 12 seconds.

TOP STORY

U.S. States sue Facebook & Instagram

Young people’s mental health is at an all-time low, and 41 U.S. states are targeting Meta in the latest lawsuit.

The claim? Meta (who owns both Facebook and Instagram) is knowingly implementing practices that harm teenagers’ mental health.

Here is the statement (which cites 33 States) from New York Attorney General Letitia James:

"Kids and teenagers are suffering from record levels of poor mental health, and social media companies like Meta are to blame…Meta has profited from children's pain by intentionally designing its platforms with manipulative features that make children addicted to their platforms while lowering their self-esteem.”

Wow.

But it’s not the first time. The Wall Street Journal first covered this in 2021, and it’s damning.

Meta is collecting lawsuits; they’ve been sued multiple times per year since 2010. The complete list is here.

What has Meta done since?

They released statements telling teens to take a break from scrolling, but it was one day before they had to tell lawmakers what they were doing to solve the issue back in 2021, so it doesn’t mean much. It’s a joke.

They also scrapped plans for a specific “Instagram for kids” after facing such intense backlash. Makes sense and is much more impactful.

Studies cite a 13.5% increase in thoughts of suicide among young girls (the list goes on) who face body image issues perpetuated by the platform. You all know what I mean here.

Admittedly, they’re taking steps, but it’s not for us to say if it’s enough.

What’s next?

We believe the platforms may change, but it’ll be slow. Don’t hold your breath.

Meta has doubled its profits since the September quarter. All of this scrutiny (and lawsuits) are not slowing them down.

But, we keep our hopes high for meaningful change. Mental health is so important in our society, and if our youth struggle with it now, what does it mean when they’re adults?

Meta has enjoyed a massive lift in their stock price as TikTok faces even more significant challenges.

The boost in profits (and the decline of their major competitor) may inspire them to avoid doing anything worse. Ideally, they make changes for the better.

Let’s see how it plays out.

California bans robotaxis over safety concerns

Here’s the summary:

  • Firefighters and police complain that driverless cabs are holding up traffic during emergencies.

  • A Cruise robotaxi drove over a pedestrian on the ground after being hit by another car. She was stuck under the cab.

  • Less than 48 hours after Cruise was permitted to expand, a pod of their taxis shut down on busy SF streets and held up traffic on a Friday night.

  • GM (who owns Cruise) was projecting $1B (with a B) in revenue by 2025. A tough one for them, but obviously necessary.

No matter how revolutionary the technology may be, it defeats the point if it’s hurting people.

So, don’t expect them in your city anytime soon (but they’ll be there one day, don’t doubt it).

“Tip Fatigue” is real

This one is controversial. Where do we draw the line?

  • Do we tip at the grocery store when we take items from the shelf and bring them to the counter?

  • What about at Starbucks?

  • Restaurants and bars are more common, but is an 18% baseline for a tip too much?

PlayUSA polled 1,000 people, and the results are probably no surprise.

  • 3/4 think tipping is out of control.

  • 2/3 would like to remove tipping altogether.

  • 3/4 would like to eliminate the “tipped minimum wage” (where employees who receive tips are paid less than minimum wage).

  • 44% tip more when the worker is in front of them and can see the tablet.

  • 50% feel guilty if prompted to tip, and they don’t.

  • 87% believe more businesses are asking for tips who didn’t before.

  • 71% have noticed tablets offering higher than usual tipping options (there’s your 18%).

The flip side? It’s a down market, and some businesses argue they need those tips to pay their employees enough to get by.

Does that mean they should run a better business and pay more?

Or are the decades of tipping something to consider when telling them to “get it together?”

If you’ve read this far, here’s something you probably didn’t know.

Tipping has a racist history.

One of the most notorious examples is Pullman Company, who hired African American men as porters.

Rather than paying them a real wage, Pullman provided the black porters with essentially nothing, forcing them to rely on tips from their white clientele for most of their pay.

In 2009, the book: Tipping: An American Social History of Gratuities by Kerry Segrave shared this (it’s a quote from history, he didn’t say it himself):

“Negroes take tips, of course; one expects that of them—it is a token of their inferiority,” he wrote. “Tips go with servility, and no man who is a voter in this country is in the least justified in being in service.”

Things change, but lawmakers in America remember.

Is change coming?

Lawmakers will vote on the Raise the Wage Act, which would boost the minimum wage across the country to $15 an hour by 2024 and, more gradually, up to $17/hour. It’s currently $7.25.

I’m not going to get into the debate here. You know where you stand. Will this improve the economy in the short term (but hurt it in the long term)? It depends on who you ask, but it’s a conversation for another time.

Let’s see if the vote passes first.

Canada’s housing crisis explained

Pretty much every Canadian I know has an opinion on housing. It’s one of the hottest topics across the country.

Most I’ve spoken with say it’s brutal (I’m paraphrasing).

Of course, not everyone feels this way. I’m referencing general sentiments.

But what’s really going on?

This video is an excellent summary I recommend watching. I thought it was good (the creator didn’t pay to be featured), but of course, do your own research.

Wrapping Up

If you have a second (and you’ve made it this far), answer this poll to share your thoughts.

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