Why Are Lawsuits Targeting Instagram, Facebook, And Other Social Media?
Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen said that of the thousands of pages of internal documents she leaked, “the most shocking disclosure was the extent to which Facebook knew its products, Instagram in particular, were harming our children and chose to do nothing about it.”
As the rates of social media use increased among children and young adults over the last decade, unfortunately, the rates of self- harm within this same population have also increased in correlation with such use. The whistleblower alleged that rising rates of self-harm, suicidality, and eating disorders, even in children as young as 10 years of age, are harms Facebook (now known as Meta) was aware of.
The tech giant is alleged to have used addictive psychological tactics to increase adolescent, teen, and young adult usage despite these trends; thus, the well-being of children and teens was disregarded in favor of growth and profits.
The attorneys at Harding Mazzotti, LLP are investigating these cases to support the families who were impacted as they seek justice.
Social Media and Mental Health
As two of the most popular social networks, Facebook and Instagram have more than 2 billion combined users worldwide. An estimated nine out of 10 teens report having used social media. A 2018 survey by Pew Research Center indicated 45% of high school students said they are online “almost constantly,” while another 44% reported being online “several times a day.”
In October 2021, Frances Haugen, a former Facebook data scientist turned whistleblower, disclosed to the United States Congress that the social media company was aware that its algorithm, designed to increase and lengthen user engagement, could have detrimental effects on certain individuals, including children and teens. She claimed the company had the ability to do more to prioritize the well-being of children, but the company’s profits came first.
A Wall Street Journal investigation revealed documents from Facebook including an internal presentation that stated, “We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls.” The presentation included and summarized research about the experiences and issues teen girls faced after using Facebook, establishing the company’s awareness of these statistics.
The report also revealed a March 2020 slide presentation of research that was posted internally at Facebook: “Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse.” The cited research stated, “Comparisons on Instagram can change how young women view and describe themselves.”
Additionally, in 2019, Current Opinion in Psychiatry published the study, “Social media, internet use and suicide attempts in adolescents” which concluded the following after reviewing multiple social media platforms: “Current evidence suggests that excessive or ‘problematic’ use of social media/internet does impact suicide risk, specifically increasing the risk of suicide attempts.”
The International Journal of Eating Disorders also published a 2019 study involving nearly 1,000 children averaging 13 years of age and reported the following: “A clear pattern of association was found between [social media] usage and [disordered eating] cognitions and behaviors with this exploratory study confirming that these relationships occur at younger-age than previously investigated.”
Facebook co-founder, Sean Parker, told Axios in a 2017 interview, “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”
Social Media Lawsuit – Contact A Lawyer Today
Harding Mazzotti, LLP is reviewing claims that multiple social media platforms were deliberately designed without regard to the safety of children.
If you or your child became addicted to social media and suffered damaging mental health effects that resulted in an attempt or death by suicide, other self-harm, or an eating disorder or body dysmorphia, our thoughts are with you and your family, and we are here to help.
Contact the social media attorneys at Harding Mazzotti, LLP at 1-800-LAW-1010 24/7 for a free case evaluation. We are here to talk through your family’s situation and any potential legal options you may have, with the understanding of the sensitive nature of your potential case.