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.
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.
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.
Matthew P. Bergman
Matthew Bergman is an attorney, law professor, philanthropist and community activist. He is the founder of the Social Media Victims Law Center and Bergman Draper Oslund Udo; a professor at Lewis & Clark Law school; and member of the board of directors of nonprofit institutions in higher education, national security, civil rights, worker protection, and the arts.
Matthew is nationally known for his work in product liability litigation and has recovered over $950 million on behalf of his clients. He has litigated over 1,200 product liability cases, conducted over 25 jury trials, and has been counsel in over 20 reported appellate cases. Matthew has chaired and keynoted national and international seminars on toxic tort litigation and bankruptcy. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, was appointed to a dozen creditors’ committees in toxic tort cases, and serves the advisory committees of several multi-billion-dollar asbestos trusts. He has carried the fight for injured victims from the courthouse to federal and state legislatures and works closely with medical providers throughout the northwest.
Laura Marquez-Garrett has spent her twenty-year career handling complex litigation matters and business disputes. For the last decade of that, her focus and specialization has been on all things electronic discovery. Laura has served as special discovery counsel for clients and law firms, and has consulted on all manner of data and discovery related innovations, issues, and disputes.
At her prior firm, Lane Powell, Laura founded and led the firm’s innovative electronic discovery practice group and discovery division, Lumos. She transitioned to the Social Media Victims Law Center in February of 2021 because she wanted to contribute to the center’s mission of holding social media companies legally accountable when the fail to protect users from foreseeable harm.
In addition to founding and serving in leadership roles for all things discovery related at her prior firm, Laura has an abundance of other discovery experience and knowledge that will make her an asset to SMVLC. She has conducted and managed countless early case assessments and several significant (and successful) forensic investigations, utilizing her expertise and love of all things discovery to achieve unprecedented results.
Madeline joined Social Media Victims Law Center in March 2022 after spending approximately two years at Bergman Draper Oslund Udo as a full-time attorney as well as doing her internship there. She graduated from Linfield College with a bachelor’s degree in political science. In law school, she clerked for Waters Kraus and Paul in Los Angeles for two summers. Through her involvement in these two firms, she focused on and gained invaluable experience in the field of toxic tort litigation. The insights collected from her time there helped stem her passion for holding corporations accountable for the injuries they cause.
Following her graduation from law school, Madeline moved to Tel Aviv, Israel where she developed data privacy policies for a technology startup. Her experience as Privacy Officer provided her with vital problem-solving skills, as well as exposure to the fields of GDPR and data privacy.
Madeline is an avid equestrian in the sport of show jumping and competes at an international level.
Madeline is also involved in philanthropy. She is a board member of the Seattle American Jewish Committee where she helps combat antisemitism and bigotry. Through her involvement, she works with governments and world leaders to stand up for human rights.
In her free time, Madeline enjoys skiing in the winter, hiking with her dog Ari, and spending time with her family, friends, and horses.
Glenn S. Draper
Glenn Draper joined Social Media Victims Law Center in June 2022 after representing victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-caused diseases since 2004. Glenn was trial counsel for several mesothelioma cases and obtained multi-million-dollar verdicts for his clients. He has taken the depositions of over 300 mesothelioma victims and obtained hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements from the asbestos companies. He joined SMVLC after being outraged by the contents of the Facebook Papers.
Glenn grew up in a military family with his father and brothers serving in the US Navy and US Army. Glenn spent two years on active duty in the US Army, where he was named Soldier of the Year for US Army Support Command Hawaii.
Glenn graduated with honors from the University of Washington Law School in 1994. He was one of several attorneys at Innocence Project Northwest that were awarded the National Law Journal’s Pro Bono Award in 2000 for representing the wrongfully convicted. He was also named a King County Quiet Hero for his pro bono work.