Social media encompasses a wide variety of websites and applications that allow users to share and create content and communicate with other users. Popular social media sites include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok. These platforms allow users to share mutual interests, experiences, and ideas.
With the advent of this technology, many parents have rightfully become increasingly worried about the effects it might have on their children. Although social media platforms have presented unique opportunities to today's youth, evidence has shown that social media can harm participants, especially young people.
A Pew Research Center study revealed that 97% of teenagers use at least one social media platform and that 45% spend most of their time online. This heavy use often brings with it sleep disturbances, distractibility, and isolation. Countless individuals have been subject to bullying and harassment through these platforms, and some have even experienced changes in behavior due to social media usage, with dire consequences.
We understand that negative consequences from the use of platforms that are practically ubiquitous in our lives can be shocking and unexpected. Seeking to undo the damage caused by social media can present a daunting challenge and one you shouldn't face alone.
If you or someone you love experienced severe injury or harm due to social media, we encourage you to speak to an experienced social media youth harm attorney. Our lawyers are committed to pursuing compensation for injured victims, and we take your claim seriously. Reach out to our social media youth harm attorneys today and learn how a skilled attorney can help you and your child.
When Social Media Accounts Do More Harm Than Good
Several studies now attest to the harm social media can cause, especially on young people who already face pressure from school and peer groups. Those who tout the technology's benefits often overlook the widespread impact of this phenomenon.
Some of the negative consequences of social media use in children and teens are:
Depression and Anxiety
Several studies have linked social media use to higher rates of depression and anxiety and increased feelings of loneliness. These symptoms can lead to decreased performance in school, decreased social interaction, and ill health effects on the entire body, from kidney function to the immune system.
Negative Body Image and Eating Disorders
Body image and appearance are important issues for young people, especially young girls. A University of Haifa study concluded that increased social media use could inversely dispose adolescent girls to develop a negative body image and various eating disorders. Eating disorders have the highest instances of mortality among all psychological disorders, and sufferers endure, on average, 48% higher healthcare costs and 48% lower earnings compared to the general population.
Bullying and Harassment
Teens and young people are routinely exposed to bullying online (cyberbullying), harassment, and hate speech. Victims of these behaviors often face shame and embarrassment and feel reluctant to seek help from parents or teachers.
Self-Harm and Suicide
Unfortunately, some victims of the above feeli hopeless or desperate, whicht could lead them to self-harm. Research links bullying to increased suicidal ideation and suicide. It may be difficult to reach out to suicidal teens or know how to step in and offer help. If you or a loved one is in immediate danger, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Text TALK to 741741.
These effects can have devastating consequences on families and loved ones. If you or someone you love experienced youth harm due to the use of Facebook or another online platform, we encourage you to speak with a qualified attorney. Social media can wreak havoc on the lives of those we care for, but you don't have to suffer in silence. Reach out to our social media attorneys for answers and find out how our mass tort law firm can help you pursue justice in your social media youth harm claim.
Dangerous Social Media Challenges
Online "challenges" present more recent concerns. While some online games may involve relatively harmless activities, many revolve around dangerous stunts that encourage children and teens to imitate the reckless behavior of others in hopes of going viral. These trends have seen young people taking dangerous amounts of prescription or over-the-counter drugs, starting fires, burning themselves, and choking themselves.
In a lawsuit sparked by one of these challenges, plaintiffs alleged that TikTok's algorithm brought one of these dangerous challenges to the "For You" front pages of the app and contributed to the deaths of some of its users.
Lawsuits like these have become more common in recent years. However, you should never file a claim involving a social media company alone if you want a favorable outcome. Although these companies may have astronomical net worths, they also have solid defenses and are unwilling to part with their money. These complex and challenging legal battles require skill, finesse, and legal knowledge. Giant tech companies are not liable to back down unless you can count on a skilled social media youth harm attorney who can build a strong case for you.
How Social Media Algorithms Can Perpetuate Harm
In addition to the recreational use of social networking, social media strategy is a part of many businesses. Many companies and firms employ creative talent and use the latest technology to attract potential clients and reach their target audience with information and interactive content. However, the algorithms that fuel these social media tools can also lead to damaging or outright dangerous content. In Gonzales vs. Google, the surviving family of a university student killed in a terrorist mass shooting claimed that Google's algorithm allowed radicalizing videos on YouTube to proliferate. Cases like this one could have dramatic effects on social media law.
The Profit Motive to Target Young People
Social media giants have enormous incentives to target young people. As the younger generation enters the consumer marketplace and workforce, these companies tailor their algorithms to attract teens and young adults, despite the harm their services cause. Features that allow users to share their location and personal information can also put children and youth at risk of stalking, identity theft, and sexual predators. In 2018, Instagram invested $390 million into social media campaigns targeting 13- to 15-year-olds, naming them as the platform's most important source of ad revenue.
Social Media Law at a Glance
Social media is no stranger to public outcry and scandal. In 2021, Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee, leaked documents that revealed that the company's intentional social media efforts to target children and teens. Moreover, they knew that these strategies hurt young people. The leaked documents exposed troubling data linking increased suicidal thoughts and self-harm to teenage girls who used the app.
In 2022, plaintiffs filed over 70 lawsuits against Meta (formerly Facebook), Snap, TikTok, and Google.
Are Social Media Platforms Immune to Lawsuits?
The vast resources and legal protection these companies receive makes social media litigation complex. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act provides immunity to social media companies and websites for third-party content shared by users. This measure protects these entities from accountability for potentially harmful content that is not considered the company's intellectual property.
However, this legal protection is not without weaknesses. Law firms are beginning to use a new tactic to hold social media channels accountable for the content they allow to flourish: product liability. Product liability claims argue that creators bear responsibility for the flaws in a product that leads to injuries. In this case, the algorithms that social media uses to attract users and distribute content could make these platforms liable for the harm they cause.
Social Media Lawsuits in Multidistrict Litigation
Lawsuits involving social media entities were consolidated into a multidistrict pretrial litigation. The companies involved include Alphabet Inc. (owner of Google LLC and YouTube LLC.), Snap Inc., and TikTok Inc. The litigation consists of more than 80 suits in 35 federal districts.
The plaintiffs claim that these social media platforms encourage addictive behavior, especially among adolescents, by design.
How a Mass Tort Attorney Can Help You
Social media companies have deep pockets and vast resources to defend themselves against lawsuits. If you or a loved one has experienced harm due to social media, you need a team of social media lawyers well-versed in how they cause youth harm to fight recover damages for you. Just as victims seek compensation from responsible parties after a personal injury or an accident, so should you seek justice for your losses due to social media.
Potential harm may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Self-harm or suicide
- Medical treatment
- Psychological care
- Emotional distress
You need an attorney who stays current on current social media law developments and has the experience and resources necessary to take on these media giants. Our mass tort lawyers can investigate your case and help you identify responsible parties.
Although pursuing a claim against a social media entity is no easy task, our legal team is up for the challenge and comes equipped with the skill to come to your aid.
A skilled social media youth harm attorney can:
- Identify which party(s) you need to file a claim against
- Determine the value of your damages, including health care, pain and suffering, and wrongful death or bodily injury
- Build a strategy around your claim
- Help you navigate every aspect of your case and the litigation process
- Negotiate a fair settlement value if and when possible
- Represent you in court if your case goes to trial
Our legal team recognizes that social media can cause great harm to young people and believes that you have the right to seek reparations for it. We hope that taking to task the corporate giants responsible for this technology will result in positive change and increased safety for today's youth.
If social media harmed you, we urge you to speak with one of our experienced attorneys, who can advise you on your legal options.
A Law Firm That Stands up for the Rights of Victims
Our law firm stands with victims of social media youth harm and is eager to provide aid to those injured by it. Call us or reach out to us online for a free consultation and find out if you have a social media youth harm legal claim.