Why are People Filing Lawsuits Against Social Media Platforms?

Why are People Filing Lawsuits Against Social Media Platforms?

Over 2,000 families are pursuing lawsuits against social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat, over claims that the companies failed to protect youth from dangerous content, creating a mental health crisis among teenagers and adolescents. The lawsuits seek to hold these platforms and their parent companies accountable for the harm they caused.

Despite a growing body of research dating back at least five years linking social media use among youth to anxiety, depression, eating disorders, self-harm, and suicidality, it wasn’t until April 2021 that people began to realize that the tech giants behind these platforms were not only failing to protect children and teens from inappropriate contact, they were using sophisticated algorithms to collect their personal data, increasing their profits while exposing vulnerable teens to worrisome content.

The Facebook Whistleblower

In April 2021, Frances Haugen resigned from her position as a data scientist at Facebook and released a trove of internal documents to the Wall Street Journal, including online employee discussions, research reports, and drafts of presentations made to senior management. The documents revealed that Facebook and Instagram (both owned by Meta) had lied or hidden information from the public about, among other issues, the platform’s impact on the mental health of young users. Keeping the whistleblower’s identity confidential, the WSJ published a series of reports on those documents, revealing to the world that the platforms knew they were harming children but failed to protect them.

Six months later, on October 3, 2021, CBS’ 60 Minutes aired an interview with Haugen, one day before she testified at a U.S. Senate hearing. Haugen explained how Facebook’s algorithm prioritized keeping users active rather than promoting their own safety. For example, she said, a teenager could easily be lured away from watching a post about healthy recipes to one that glorified anorexia.

“I came forward because I recognized a frightening truth,” she testified during the Senate hearing. “Almost no one outside of Facebook knows what happens inside Facebook. The company’s leadership keeps vital information from the public, the U.S. government, its shareholders, and governments around the world.”

Social Media Youth Harm Lawsuits

Young adults and parents of teenagers and adolescents harmed by Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms began filing social media lawsuits seeking justice against these tech giants who prioritized profits over the wellbeing of their children. In October 2022, as the number of lawsuits swelled into the dozens, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated the cases into a multi-district litigation (MDL) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California under Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers.

The lawsuits claim that social media platforms failed to protect young users from inappropriate and dangerous content, choosing to design their apps to be more addictive and exploitative to teenagers and adolescents. To qualify for a social media lawsuit, the user must have been younger than 25 when they became — or believe they became — addicted to social media and subsequently suffered physical or psychological harm.

Social Media Harm on Vulnerable Youth

Even before the Facebook Whistleblower came forward with deceptive tactics the platform used to lure young users to their apps and keep them scrolling once they got there, research began linking the use of social media among teens and tweens to a range of physical and psychological harm. Here are just some of the conditions caused or aggravated by social media use in youth.

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Body dysphoria
  • Eating Disorders: binge eating, bulimia, anorexia
  • Injuries or death due to social media challenges
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sexual victimization and exploitation
  • Self-harm or self-harm ideation
  • Suicide or suicidal ideation  

Contact a Lawyer to Discuss Whether You are Eligible to File a Lawsuit Against Social Media Platforms

The Facebook whistleblower highlighted how much the social media company knew about the harm the tech giant was causing youth and how it failed to protect them. If you or your child was harmed after using Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or another platform, you deserve compensation for your suffering. Contact the experienced mass tort lawyers at Legal Lawsuit News today at 866-467-0943 or through our online contact form to schedule a free and confidential consultation, and learn your legal options.


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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