NYC Mayor Files Lawsuit Against Social Media Companies

NYC Mayor Files Lawsuit Against Social Media Companies

The City of New York Shines Light on the Youth Mental Health Crisis

New York City Mayor Eric Adams reported on February 14, 2024, that his administration has filed a lawsuit against the largest social media companies, including:

  • Meta Platforms (Facebook and Instagram)
  • Alphabet (Google) 
  • YouTube 
  • Snap Inc. (Snapchat) and 
  • Byte Dance (TikTok) 

The lawsuit was filed in California Superior Court on behalf of three plaintiff entities: the City of New York, New York’s Department of Education, and the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. 

What Are the Allegations of the NYC Social Media Lawsuit?

NYC Mayor Files Lawsuit Against Social Media Companies

Each of the New York plaintiff entities filed three legal counts against the social media companies in the complaint.

Each entity presented legal arguments based on these three theories of liability: 

  • Negligence
  • Gross negligence
  • Public nuisance

In the complaint, the plaintiffs demanded a jury trial to resolve the allegations, payment of financial damages as compensation for injuries suffered, and injunctive relief geared toward changing the social media companies’ actions and behaviors.

This legal action follows numerous social media youth harm lawsuits filed throughout our nation.

These lawsuits are based on research studies that show a link between social media use and serious health concerns, including:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Negative body image and self-confidence
  • Eating disorders
  • Harassment and cyberbullying
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal thoughts and tendencies

Several federal social media lawsuits have been consolidated into multidistrict litigation against some of the biggest platforms, including Google, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat. 

What Do the New York Entities Claim in the Lawsuit Against Social Media Giants?

In general, the pending lawsuit alleges that social media platforms have created an ongoing financial burden on the city. The complaint claims the current youth social media crisis impacts New York schools, hospitals, and other NYC community resources.

In support of the social media lawsuit, NYC Mayor Adams gave a press conference where he described New York City youth who are in a state of constant despair, continually glued to their cell phones and smart devices, all while they are not succeeding in school and losing social skills because of their social media addiction.

During one press conference, Mayor Adams commented, "Our city is built on innovation and technology, but many social media platforms end up endangering our children's mental health, promoting addiction, and encouraging unsafe behavior."

What Does New York City Hope to Achieve?

Why Are Parents, Cities, and Other Entities Filing Social Media Lawsuits?

According to the Mayor, the lawsuit was filed to protect New York’s citizens, especially the younger generation, in a situation that is not currently governed by federal law. Specifically, Mayor Adams stated:

"We're taking bold action on behalf of millions of New Yorkers to hold these companies accountable for their role in this crisis, and we're building on our work to address this public health hazard.

"This lawsuit and action plan are part of a larger reckoning that will shape the lives of our young people, our city, and our society for years to come."

In another statement, the Mayor of New York City further justified the social media lawsuit when he commented, "Over the past decade, we have seen just how addictive and overwhelming the online world can be, exposing our children to a non-stop stream of harmful content and fueling our national youth mental health crisis," 

Why Are Parents, Cities, and Other Entities Filing Social Media Lawsuits?

Currently, there are no federal laws governing social media companies’ actions. Without federal guidance, many feel there is little protection for the millions of young people who use social media. As a result, lawsuits are being filed by school districts, cities, and especially parents who claim social media harmed their children

For example, one mother made the news by bringing a lawsuit against social media giants Meta and Snap. In her complaint, the plaintiff, Tammy Rodriguez, claimed the “defective design, negligence, and unreasonable dangerous features” created by Meta and Snap led to her daughter’s suicide in July 2023. 

Other social media lawsuits raise the legal theory that social media companies knowingly created dangerous or defective products that harm kids and/or addict children to these platforms.

Social Media Companies Knew Children Were Being Harmed Years Ago

Social Media Companies Knew Children Were Being Harmed Years Ago

Although many people assumed the big social media companies must have known about the problems their young users were facing, it was mostly speculation until the Capitol Hill hearings where a Facebook whistleblower, Frances Haugen, disclosed internal Facebook communications. The documents revealed Facebook knew about the harm children were experiencing years ago, but it failed to take action to stop the harm or simply address the issues.

All social media companies claim they want young users to have safe and entertaining experiences online. They assert they have created many tools to keep kids safe, but they don’t address the ongoing epidemic of mental and emotional distress suffered by one of the largest and most vulnerable user groups—teens and young adults.

Social Media Companies Reply to Allegations of Youth Harm

In response to allegations of wrongdoing in the media and court documents, spokespeople for the different social media companies have issued statements. Here is a quick summary of the biggest companies’ positions:


CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized to families during a U.S. Senate hearing focusing on how social media impacts children. However, he denied responsibility by claiming that since there are no specific laws or other legal obligations included in the user’s relationship with social media platforms, his company does not have to disclose internal information about the platform’s inner workings.

Another spokesperson for Meta claimed, “We've spent a decade working on these issues and hiring people who have dedicated their careers to keeping young people safe and supported online," 


In response to the NYC social media lawsuit, Google spokesperson José Castañeda commented, "Providing young people with a safer, healthier experience online has always been core to our work… In collaboration with youth, mental health and parenting experts, we've built services and policies to give young people age-appropriate experiences, and parents robust controls. The allegations in this complaint are simply not true."


"TikTok has industry-leading safeguards to support teens' well-being, including age-restricted features, parental controls, an automatic 60-minute time limit for users under 18, and more," claimed a spokesperson for TikTok.


A Snapchat spokesperson issued a statement claiming, "Snapchat was intentionally designed to be different from traditional social media, with a focus on helping Snapchatters communicate with their close friends. Snapchat opens directly to a camera — rather than a feed of content that encourages passive scrolling — and has no traditional public likes or comments.”

Social Media Lawyer

The social media lawsuit filed by NYC Mayor Eric Adams marks the passing of another threshold in legal action against social media companies. At Lawsuit Legal News, we expect the federal multidistrict litigation to see a surge of new cases along with other complaints filed by parents and governmental entities and agencies, all trying to protect our youth from the dangers of social media. 
If you or a loved one has been harmed by social media use and want to learn more about bringing legal action against these companies, contact the dedicated team at Lawsuit Legal News today.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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