Who We Are

The Social Media Victims Law Center (SMVLC) works to hold social media companies legally accountable for the harm they inflict on vulnerable users. SMVLC seeks to apply principles of product liability to force social media companies to elevate consumer safety to the forefront of their economic analysis and design safer platforms that protect users from foreseeable harm.

Only civil litigation can force social medias to compensate victims for the harm caused by their products. Successful court recoveries on behalf of current social media victims will not only furnish the compensation they need and deserve but also incentivize social media companies to design safer products to avoid having to pay court awards in the future.

While government regulation plays an important role in curbing known abuses, the civil justice system can force social media companies to act proactively to include consumer safety in the cost of production.

a photo of attorney Matthew P. Bergman
Madeline Bergman

Madeline Basha

Glenn S. Draper headshot

Glenn S. Draper

Laura Marquez

Laura Marquez-Garrett

Sydney Lottes

Sydney Lottes


Justice Drives Change

The explosion of social media over the first two decades of the 21st Century has had a similar social effect on American society as the advent of the automobile in the early 20th Century.

In the early years, auto manufacturers did not consider user safety in car design at the same time that the increased speed of motorized transportation made road accidents far more deadly. The increased threat of in auto injuries in the first half 20th Century lead to an expansion of government safety regulation and the advent of product liability litigation against auto manufacturers.

a group of people using their smart phones
lady of justice statue

Product liability litigation forced auto manufactures to compensate consumers for foreseeable injuries arising from safety defects in their cars. This in turn provided the economic incentive to act proactively to design safer automobiles and incorporate the cost of user safety into the cost of product. As a result, the rate of automobile fatalities has declined 61% since 1930.

Like the automobile, social media has brought people closer together and enhanced convenience and fluidity of everyday life. On the other hand, social media platforms have both expanded the opportunity for harmful and exploitative messages from more traditional communications networks and increased the magnitude of the resulting harm.

Just as the injury from a 50 mile per hour car crash is much worse than from the collision of two horse drawn buggies, the social media platform amplifies the human cost of violence, bullying, intimidation, and hate speech exponentially.

The current design of social media platforms has contributed to a 56% increase in teen suicide, skyrocketing rates of eating disorders among teens, sexual exploitation of minors and vulnerable adults, and a proliferation of divisive violence in our communities. Yet in the current unregulated environment, social media companies earn billions in profits without having to bear the costs of foreseeable injuries to users of their products.

While government regulation plays an important role in improving the safety of social media platforms, it can only address problems after they become publicized either by company whistleblowers or investigation. Moreover safety improvements resulting from government action is limited to the specific defect addressed by the particular regulation.

In contrast, product liability litigation forces social media companies to act proactively to anticipate harms arising from the foreseeable use of their platforms and take reasonable steps to improve consumer safety. Until social media companies are forced to include the cost of victim compensation in their financial model, they will have no incentive to curtail their profit margins by designing safer products.

SMVLC understands that with billions in profits at stake, social media companies will fight long and hard to avoid accountability to the victims of their defective products. Unlike more established types of mass tort litigation, social media product liability is a new field of law with little precedent governing how cases will be adjudicated. While confident that justice will ultimately prevail, SMVLC anticipates a complex and contentious course of litigation with possible setbacks along the path to victory.

Victims who initially seek to hold social media companies legally accountable are brave pioneers whose courage will not only protect their families but make it easier for future victims to get the compensation they need and deserve and eventually force social media companies to encompass social responsibility in their economic calculus.

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