An increasing number of children and teens are experiencing harm caused by Meta platforms Facebook and Instagram. Many families have started to pursue a Meta lawsuit to pursue damages for the harm social media has caused teenagers. The Social Media Victims Law Center can help you hold Meta and accountable for the harm they’ve caused.
THIS IS AN ACTIVE LAWSUIT
What You’ll Learn
- Meta Lawsuit Updates
- What Is Meta?
- Why Are People Filing Lawsuits Against Meta?
- The Case Against Meta: Product Liability
- Who Can File a Lawsuit Against Meta?
- What Damages Are Available in a Lawsuit Against Meta?
- How Do You File a Social Media Harm Lawsuit Against Meta?
- How Have Facebook and Instagram Contributed to Mental Health Issues in Teens?
- Social Media Attorneys Experienced With Lawsuits Against Meta
Meta Lawsuit Updates
November 2023 Update
- November 27th, 2023 – Previously Redacted Information About Meta Exposed – California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the release of a new version of the 33 attorneys general complaint against Meta with information that was previously redacted. The new information shows that Meta knew millions of children under the age of 13 were using their platform, and yet they still collected their personal data. This contradicts Mark Zuckerbergs’ testimony in 2021 in which he told Congress the platform kicks children off if they are under the age of 13. The new version also released internal data confirming that Meta does in fact prioritize increasing time spent on the platform by teen users and has downplayed the harm experienced by teens on their platforms.
- November 14th, 2023 – Judge Rejects Dismissal of Social Media Addiction Lawsuits – U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers rejected social media companies’ request to dismiss claims that their platforms addicted millions of children, causing harm to their mental health.
- November 7th, 2023 – A Second Whistleblower Testifies Against Meta – During a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and Law, a second whistleblower testified that Meta was aware of the harm young users faced on their apps and chose not to take measures to stop it. The whistleblower was Arturo Bejar, a former Facebook engineering director and Instagram consultant known for his experience in user safety and well-being. He testified that he informed top executives at Meta, including Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandburg, about findings from his own research that showed an ongoing pattern of harm to teens.
October 2023 Update
- October 13th, 2023 – Over 42 State Attorneys General Sue Meta – more than three dozen states filed lawsuits against Meta in the Superior Court of California County of Los Angeles for knowingly using features on Instagram and Facebook to maximize revenue with complete disregard for the negative mental health impact the platforms were having on minors. Plaintiffs argue that the manipulative features used by these platforms resulted in teens developing an addiction to social media, leading to depression, anxiety, development of eating disorders, and, in some severe cases, engaging in self-harm or committing suicide.
What Is Meta?
First introduced in 2004, Facebook was initially available to college students with an official school email address. Tech mogul Mark Zuckerberg started the networking website as a Harvard University student.
After Facebook took over Instagram—the social media platform focused on sharing photographs and videos—the company changed its name to Meta in 2021. Facebook is the most-used social media platform globally, with nearly 3 billion active monthly users, and 70 percent of internet users stay active on at least one Meta platform.
Facebook and Instagram, two of the four most popular social media platforms, are both owned by Meta Platforms, Inc. These platforms have become an essential part of the culture and daily lifestyle of today’s youngsters and teens.
Unfortunately, there are many potential dangers using online social media, and the owners of these platforms bear a responsibility for its proper use. However, Meta has not taken this responsibility seriously, resulting in alleged harm, injury, and worse for their young users.
As such, more and more people are now filing social media lawsuits against Meta Platforms.
The Social Media Victims Law Center works to hold social media companies legally accountable for the harm they inflict on vulnerable users by applying principles of product liability. In fact, the Social Media Victims Law Center is involved in several lawsuits against Meta.
In the case of Rodriguez v. Meta Platforms, eleven-year-old Selena Rodriguez struggled with addiction to Instagram and Snapchat for two years.
Selena’s social media use led to:
- Poor self-esteem
- Sleep deprivation
- Eating disorders
- Explicit correspondence with men
Her addiction finally ended with her suicide on July 21, 2021.
In the case of Heffner v. Meta Platforms, seventeen-year-old Liam Birchfield’s dream to join the Air Force was cut short when he used a firearm to take his own life on July 6, 2021. Liam became addicted to Instagram and Snapchat during middle school and spent hours every morning scrolling through endless online feeds, communicating with strangers, and viewing material about firearms. His addiction led to sleep deprivation, anxiety, depression, and ultimately his suicide.
In the case of Dawley v. Meta Platforms, active high school senior Christopher James “CJ” Dawley had a bright future, loved the outdoors, sports, and fixing cars. However, he developed an addiction to Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat which led to an obsession with body image and sleep deprivation. CJ suffered with his social media addiction for two years before committing suicide by gunshot on January 4, 2015. He was only seventeen.
In the case of Doffing v. Meta Platforms, Brittney Doffing and her minor daughter M.K. are suing Meta and Snap Inc. for the psychological harm M.K. experienced as a result of using Instagram and Snapchat. M.K. became addicted within just two weeks of use and experienced:
- A sharp decline in academic performance
- Sexually explicit communications from men
- Sleep deprivation
- Two psychiatric hospitalizations
Restricted access at home led to multiple instances of her running away to gain access.
In the case of Spence v. Meta Platforms, Alexis Spence had been a happy, well-adjusted child who, at only 11 years old, surrendered to peer pressure and accessed Instagram while at school without her parents’ knowledge or permission. Instagram taught her to bypass parental controls and increase her social media use without her parents’ knowledge, despite their diligent efforts to restrict access. After developing suicidal thoughts and patterns of self-harm, Alexis ended up needing inpatient treatment for eating disorders and suffered permanent physical and psychological effects that required the use of a service dog.
All of these social media lawsuits point to Meta’s strict liability and negligence for the harm experienced from using their products.
First, Meta’s products are defective by design.
These design defects are especially damaging because no reasonable parent or user would assume that a harmful product would be created intentionally. However:
- Meta’s products lack safeguards that could prevent minors from exposure to harmful and abusive content. Such features could be easily included.
- Meta allows users under thirteen to access its platforms without parental consent in violation of federal laws. They do not require age or identity authentication.
- Meta’s products lack parental controls. Even worse, they are intentionally designed to obstruct parental monitoring and restriction.
- Meta’s products intentionally recommend and promote harmful content that can exploit young users.
- Meta’s products have no mechanisms that allow users or parents to report sex offenders to law enforcement.
- Meta intentionally designed addictive products that exploit and manipulate the incomplete brain development of youths.
- Meta platforms lack a notification system for parents when teens and children engage in problematic use. This use can easily be detected by the platforms’ algorithms.
Second, Meta’s products are marketed without proper warnings or instructions to parents or users. Meta’s users can’t reasonably be expected to know that the products have:
- The potential for addiction
- The risk of sleep deprivation
- The lack of mechanisms to report minors’ screen time to their parents
Third, Meta displayed negligence in marketing harmful products to youths without conducting research or warning the public. Meta hasn’t investigated or restricted the use of their products by sexual predators. They’ve also failed to provide parents with tools to ensure its platforms are used in a safe and limited manner.
Meta might claim that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects it from liability, since Section 230 states that social media companies can’t be held liable for what users post.
However, these lawsuits don’t allege that Meta is liable for content posted by third parties. Meta is being sued for its own actions in using and promoting third-party content.
There are helpful resources available to parents about addiction to Meta products. If your teen has been harmed by social media, you can fight back! Contact the Social Media Victims Law Center today to schedule a free confidential case evaluation.
Why Are People Filing Lawsuits Against Meta?
While social media is extremely popular, especially among younger people, it has serious drawbacks. Social media addiction continues to rise in the U.S. and elsewhere and has been found to have harmful effects on teens, including mental health issues, anxiety, and depression. Because of these known effects, families are suing Meta to hold the company accountable after their social media usage harmed their children.
While experts have warned about the mental effects of social media for many years, the issue got more attention when Frances Haugen, a former Facebook manager, brought internal company documents to light that exposed Meta’s awareness of the harm it causes its users.
One such document indicated that Meta employees knew Instagram led to body image issues for teens but ignored the dangers. Meanwhile, the families of those harmed by Instagram and Facebook have started pursuing lawsuits to hold Meta accountable. Following Haugen’s revelations, more and more families have come forward with allegations against the social media giant.
The Case Against Meta: Product Liability
All these social media lawsuits allege similar facts that point to Meta’s strict liability and negligence for the harm experienced from using their products:
- The products are defective by design.
- The products are marketed without proper warnings or instructions.
- Meta displayed negligence in marketing harmful products to youths without conducting research or warning the public.
Meta’s Products Are Defective by Design
Meta’s design defects are especially damaging because no reasonable parent or user would assume that Meta would intentionally create a harmful product. However, the evidence proves otherwise:
- Meta’s products lack safeguards that could prevent minors from exposure to harmful and exploitative content, even though such features could be easily included.
- Meta allows users under 13 to access its platforms in violation of federal laws and without parental consent by failing to require age or identity authentication.
- Meta’s products lack parental controls and are intentionally designed to thwart parental monitoring and restriction.
- Meta’s products intentionally recommend and promote harmful and exploitative content to young users.
- Meta’s products have no mechanisms to report sex offenders to law enforcement or allow users or parents to do the same.
- Meta has intentionally designed addictive products that exploit the incomplete brain development of youths and manipulate the brain reward system.
- Meta platforms lack a notification system for parents when teens and children engage in problematic use, even though this can easily be detected by the platforms’ algorithms.
Meta Has Failed to Warn Users and Parents About the Known Dangers of Their Products
A lack of warnings prevents Meta’s users from safely accessing the product because they cannot reasonably be expected to know about the product’s dangers:
- The potential for addiction and its effects
- The risk of sleep deprivation and its effects
- The lack of mechanisms to report minors’ screen time to their parents
Meta Has Demonstrated Negligence
Meta has neglected its duty to provide users with safe products as follows:
- Meta has neglected to allow independent testing of its products’ effects or to conduct adequate testing of its own.
- Meta has failed to provide ample warnings to users and their parents about the known dangers of using their products.
- Meta has neglected to investigate and restrict the use of Meta products by sexual predators.
- Meta has neglected to provide parents with the necessary tools to ensure its platforms are used in a safe and limited manner.
Who Can File a Lawsuit Against Meta?
Any children or teens born after the year 2000 that have experienced harm from using Meta’s social platforms may be eligible to file a Meta harm lawsuit. Examples of the harm social media addiction can cause include the following:
Some argue that many teens would struggle with these same issues even if they weren’t on social media platforms. However, studies continue to show that social media, such as Meta platforms, contributes to low self-esteem, poor body image, fear of missing out, and mental and emotional health challenges that lead to worsening mental states.
If you want to learn more about whether you’re eligible to file a Meta lawsuit, talk to the team at the Social Media Victims Law Center.
What Damages Are Available in a Lawsuit Against Meta?
In these lawsuits, plaintiffs may be eligible to receive different types of damages, including the following:
- Medical treatment for mental or physical health issues
- Therapy costs to treat mental or emotional disorders
- Pain and suffering the victim suffered
- Treatment and recovery costs
- Lost income related to disorders or injuries
- Punitive damages
Punitive damages are monetary damages designed to punish the defendant and deter future instances of the same act or behavior. Although rare, they could apply if the defendant acted willfully or wantonly when causing the harm.
How Do You File a Social Media Harm Lawsuit Against Meta?
When your teen or child is experiencing harm because of Meta’s social media platforms, follow these steps to pursue a Facebook mental health lawsuit:
1. Talk to an Attorney
Your first step is to contact a social media lawsuit lawyer who can explain your rights, examine your case, and guide you through the legal process.
2. Examine the Case and Investigate
You and your attorney will review your child’s case to assess the damage and determine the cause. This process will involve a thorough investigation, research, and gathering evidence.
3. Start the Paperwork and Filing
There are several hoops to jump through when you’re ready to file your Facebook or Instagram lawsuit for mental health. You must prepare paperwork to file the lawsuit with the court in your area.
4. Pay Attention to Dates and Deadlines
Your case will have deadlines you must follow, including important filing deadlines. In addition, you will have to attend all necessary hearings and court dates.
5. Consider Offers and Settlements
Sometimes, you can settle the case out of court. Your attorney will walk you through the pros and cons and help you make the right decision.
6. Get the Compensation You Deserve
Your loved one has suffered harm because of Meta. Our goal at the Social Media Victims Law Center is to get you the compensation you and your family deserve.
How Have Facebook and Instagram Contributed to Mental Health Issues in Teens?
Evidence is mounting that both Facebook and Instagram have negatively impacted teens’ mental health. We now know Meta is knowingly causing and contributing to a growing mental health crisis affecting U.S. youth.
Photograph-centric Instagram has caused an increase in eating disorders in teens and young children. Meta’s own research has found that 66 percent of teen girls experience negative social comparison on Instagram, and 52 percent said it resulted from beauty-related images on the platform.
Meanwhile, 32 percent of teen girls said Instagram made them feel worse about their bodies, and 13.5 percent said Instagram made thoughts of suicide and self-injury worse. Seventeen percent of teen girls said the platform makes their eating issues worse.
Social Media Attorneys Experienced With Lawsuits Against Meta
When your child or teen has experienced issues related to social media platforms under Meta’s control, it’s time to talk to a lawyer. Attorney Matt Bergman and the Social Media Victims Law Center have years of experience handling these cases to help families move forward.
To date, the Social Media Victims Law Center has filed the following cases against Meta:
- October 5, 2022: C.U. and S.U. v. Meta Platforms Inc.: This Instagram harm lawsuit alleges that Meta and Snapchat caused a girl to become addicted to their products, resulting in severe mental health issues and suicide attempts. She alleges that Snapchat enabled, facilitated, and profited from her abuse.
- August 4, 2022: Jennifer Mitchell v. Meta Platforms Inc.: This lawsuit alleges Meta is responsible for the wrongful death of 16-year-old Ian James Ezquerra of New Port Richey, Florida.
- June 7, 2022: Alexis, Kathleen, and Jeffrey Spence v. Meta Platforms Inc.: Alexis Spence and her parents, Kathleen and Jeffrey Spence, filed this personal injury lawsuit against Meta. This lawsuit alleges that Instagram is responsible for Alexis’ social media addiction, beginning when she was just 11 years old, resulting in anxiety, depression, self-harm, an eating disorder, and suicidal thoughts.
- April 12, 2022: Donna Dawley vs. Meta Platforms Inc.: This wrongful death lawsuit against Meta seeks to hold the platform accountable for the suicide death of Christopher Dawley, 17, of Salem, Wisconsin, on January 4, 2015.
- January 20, 2021: Brittney Doffing and M.D. vs. Meta Platforms Inc.: This product liability lawsuit seeks to hold Meta accountable for the harm resulting from the defective design and unreasonably dangerous features available to minors. It also alleges sexual discrimination for using gender information to target female users with content and accounts specifically harmful to them.
- January 20, 2021: Rodriguez v. Meta Platforms Inc.: This wrongful death lawsuit seeks to hold Meta accountable for the 2021 suicide of 11-year-old Selena Rodriguez of Enfield, Connecticut. The lawsuit alleges Meta defectively designed its products with unreasonably dangerous features.
Our team applies principles of product liability and tort law to force social media companies to stop putting profits over consumer safety and design safer platforms that protect users from foreseeable harm.
If social media use has harmed your child, contact the Social Media Victims Law Center for a free case evaluation.
Frequently Asked Questions
For individuals and children who have been
We only handle cases on a contingent fee basis. This means that we are paid a portion of any recovery obtained in the case and you do not owe us any attorneys’ fees if the lawsuit does not result in a recovery.
Every case is unique. Our attorneys will work with your family to evaluate your potential case and help you evaluate whether filing a lawsuit or other legal proceeding is in your family’s best interest. Generally speaking, the types of cases we handle involve serious mental health effects, including attempted or completed suicide, eating disorders, inpatient mental health treatment, or sexual trafficking/exploitation that was caused by or contributed to through addictive or problematic social media use by teens and young adults.
We are a law firm based near Seattle, WA comprised of lawyers who have spent their entire careers representing victims who have been harmed by dangerous products. We are also parents. Shocked and troubled by the recent revelations about the harm caused to teens and young adults by social media platforms, which powerful technology companies have designed to be highly addictive, Social Media Victims Law Center was launched specifically to help families and children who have suffered serious mental harm or exploitation through social media use to obtain justice.