Social Media Lawsuits: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and More
Hundreds of social media lawsuits are being filed against major platforms such as Meta, Snapchat, TikTok, and Discord. Lawsuits allege the companies intentionally designed their platforms to be addictive to children and teens without warning of the mental and physical harm that would follow.
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Latest Updates on Social Media Harm Lawsuits
As of January 2024, 482 social media harm lawsuits have been filed, with 393 more pending in MDL 3047 in the Northern District of California. U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez is handling the cases.
January 2, 2024: There are 482 actions filed against social media companies, with 393 cases pending.
December 15, 2023: Fourteen new youth social media addiction lawsuit cases have been transferred to the MDL since November, with 436 cases pending.
November 16, 2023: To date, 455 actions against social media companies have been transferred to the MDL, and 448 are still pending.
November 14, 2023: Judge Rogers denies the defendants’ joint motion to dismiss the lawsuits in the MDL, ruling that Section 230 does not give social media companies blanket immunity.
October 16, 2023: A total of 434 cases against social media companies have been filed and transferred to the MDL, and 429 cases are pending.
July 24, 2023: To date, nearly 200 school districts have joined the tide of claims against social media companies, according to the Wall Street Journal.
July 17, 2023: The number of cases transferred to the MDL has risen to 348, and 344 remain pending.
May 15, 2023: One hundred more cases have been transferred to the MDL since March, bringing the total to 235.
April 14, 2023: Defendants in the social media MDL file a joint motion to dismiss, asserting that product liability laws don’t apply to social media platforms because they are intangible products.
February 16, 2023: The number of cases transferred to MDL 3047 rise to 135.
November 15, 2022: One hundred twenty social media cases are pending in the MDL.
October 14, 2022: The number of cases transferred to MDL 3047 has grown to 39.
October 6, 2022: The Panel on Multidistrict Litigation grants plaintiffs’ motion to transfer social media lawsuits to multidistrict litigation. The cases are assigned to the Honorable Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in the Northern District of California as MDL 3047. The court received notice that 56 new cases had been filed in 24 districts.
August 2, 2022: A plaintiff in a lawsuit against Meta files a motion to transfer 28 pending social media lawsuits to multidistrict litigation with hundreds more expected.
Why are Social Media Lawsuits Being Filed?
In October of 2021, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen courageously blew the whistle after secretly copying thousands of pages of internal Meta documents. These documents revealed that Facebook executives knew its product harmed children but chose not to fix it.
Thousands of parents have struggled to stop mental health decline in their children to no avail because they didn’t know what was wrong. Many have endured the pain of their children’s suicide with no answers. Children are growing up with lifelong physical damage from eating disorders and addictions. Frances Haugen’s testimony brought to light social media’s role in these devastating circumstances.
Meta learned about the harm of social media from its own research. However, company executives continued to increase the addictive qualities of their platforms to maximize profits, leading parents and lawyers to sue Facebook and Instagram.
The November 2023 testimony of a second whistleblower, former engineering director Arturo Bejar, corroborated Frances Haugen’s testimony. Mr. Bejar also publicized internal Facebook documents that showed a pattern of turning a blind eye to harmful content, even after Marc Zuckerberg, Adam Mosseri, and other upper-level executives were personally informed about specific harms.
Problematic Social Media Use Causes Real Harm
Today’s youth are experiencing mental health challenges at a level never seen before. According to the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey, ten years of data “make it clear that young people in the U.S. are collectively experiencing a level of distress that calls on us to act.”
Clinical studies have proven that social media platforms manipulate the brain’s reward system by encouraging a dopamine release through various interactions such as likes, shares, and comments. Adolescents are especially susceptible because their developing brains place a high value on social rewards. This leads to compulsive use.
Adolescents are uniquely vulnerable to mental health effects from social media use because they are more peer-dependent than adults and less averse to risk-taking. Plaintiffs in the litigation allege that the companies target children and exploit their vulnerabilities for financial gain.
Parents aren’t the only ones who have taken notice of social media addiction in youth.
- School districts throughout the nation have joined the litigation due to the increased resources they are having to invest in mental health professionals because of the harmful effects of social media.
- Attorneys general in 42 states have filed social media addiction lawsuits because social media companies misled the public about the dangers of social media while profiting from children’s pain.
- In May of 2023, United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued a public advisory urging all Americans, including technology companies, to take immediate action to protect our nation’s youth.
Social media companies have yet to answer the call. Instead, they have shown that they will continue to prioritize profits over safety until forced to do otherwise through lawsuits and public policy.
Social Media Platforms Named in Nationwide Lawsuits
Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, isn’t the only social media company that is harming our youth. All of the major social media companies rely on addictive algorithms and promote harmful content to increase engagement and keep users online as long as possible. The following companies are also named in the social media addiction lawsuits:
What is the Legal Basis of the Social Media Lawsuits?
Plaintiffs in the lawsuits against social media companies are pursuing damages for the following:
- Product liability
- Unfair trade practices
- Fraudulent concealment and misrepresentation
- Multiple violations of criminal laws related to child sexual abuse materials
- Wrongful death
Product liability laws allow plaintiffs to hold defendants strictly liable for providing harmful products to the public when a defective design or failure to warn leads to harm. In negligence claims, plaintiffs must prove all of the following:
- The defendant owed a duty of care.
- The defendant breached the duty of care.
- The breach of duty caused harm that would not otherwise have occurred.
- The breach of duty is the direct and proximate cause of the harm.
Plaintiffs allege that the social media companies owed a heightened duty of care because the complaints involve minors. According to the complaint, the social media companies knew or should have known that their products could cause harm, yet they failed to mitigate the risk of harm or warn users about the risk.
Social media companies have relied on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and the First Amendment to shield themselves from liability for harming youth. The First Amendment protects free speech, while Section 230 shields online publishers from liability for third-party content.
The lawsuits seek to hold social media companies liable for their own actions, not for the actions of third-party users. If the plaintiffs prevail, social media companies will finally be forced to stop misusing Section 230 and the First Amendment as blanket immunity when they exploit children for unreasonable financial gain.
Recent rulings on the latest wave of social media litigation have provided hope that social media companies may face accountability. In the federal MDL, Judge Rogers ruled against the strict liability claims, stating that they do not qualify as products. However, in a victory for social media victims, the court is allowing the following negligence claims against the social media companies to proceed:
- Failure to provide effective parental controls
- Failure to provide users with time-restriction methods
- Making it difficult for users to delete accounts
- Failure to use effective age verification methods
- Making it difficult to report predators
- Providing appearance filters
- Failing to label filtered content
- Requiring users to establish accounts to report sexual predators and abuse
- Violating multiple criminal laws governing child sexual abuse materials
The judge explicitly stated numerous times throughout the ruling that Section 230 does not bar all of these claims. This is a significant win for social media victims.
Alleged Defective Aspects of Social Media Platforms
The complaints in the current lawsuits seek to hold social media companies liable on the basis of strict liability and negligence for the following:
- Lack of meaningful age verification processes
- Lack of effective parental controls or monitoring mechanisms
- Lack of warnings when users are signing up
- Lack of any method to monitor and self-restrict length and frequency of use
- Never ending feeds
- Algorithms that promote compulsive use
- Lack of labels on filtered images and videos
- Intrusive notification timing designed to lure users back to the platforms
- Barriers to voluntarily deleting or deactivating accounts
- Lack of security features to prevent child sexual abuse and exploitation
- The inability of non-users to file complaints of sexual predators and abuse
- Lack of effective child sexual abuse material scanning software
- Geolocation of minors
- Features that recommend minor accounts to adults they don’t know
Youth Harm Caused By Defective Social Media Platform Design
The persistent defective designs, fraudulent marketing, and misrepresentations by social media companies have made children vulnerable to cyberbullying, sexual violence, and the following mental health effects:
Who May Be Eligible to File a Social Media Lawsuit?
You may be eligible to file a social media addiction lawsuit if the following apply:
- Your child used Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Discord, YouTube, or other social media platforms.
- Your child developed a mental health disorder that required treatment or reduced their quality of life.
- Your child suffered physical harm as a result of an eating disorder, addiction, or self-harm that stems from social media use.
- Your child’s social media use resulted in an academic decline or mental health problems that impact your child’s future.
See If You Qualify for a Social Media Lawsuit
Our law firm is representing more than 1,200 parties in social media lawsuits, and this number is growing. Parents, school districts, and even state attorneys general all over the United States allege that social media companies expose young people to harmful content and addictive algorithms that lead to eating disorders, depression, and suicide in youth.
Social Media Victims Law Center was founded by Matthew Bergman in response to the testimony of Frances Haugen, the first Facebook whistleblower. He is an accomplished product liability lawyer with past experience standing up to powerful corporations in asbestos litigation.
Matthew Bergman is nationally recognized as a Top 100 National Trial Lawyer, a prestigious honor only awarded to the top lawyers in the nation. He is extensively involved in charity and civil rights work. He is a passionate lawyer who cares about his clients. He has over 35 years of experience and has recovered more than $1 billion from large companies for injured individuals.
If your child has suffered harm as a result of social media use, Matthew Bergman and the Social Media Victims Law Center are ready to fight for your child against the large social media companies that thought they could get away with harming a whole generation of children. You could recover substantial compensation. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.