W&L Sues Social Media Companies for Teen Addiction

UPDATE 11-10-2022: James Bilsborrow was appointed to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee Membership for the MDL.

Weitz & Luxenberg has filed a lawsuit against social media companies. It is for targeting young people and children with content designed to maximize engagement without considering user interest or safety. On behalf of clients, we are suing Meta Platforms, Inc., formerly known as Facebook, Inc.; Snap, Inc.; TikTok, Inc.; and ByteDance, Inc.

Social Media Is Causing Addiction

“In our lawsuit, we are claiming Facebook and Instagram are aware their products are addicting teenagers and contributing to their mental health problems,” says James Bilsborrow, W&L partner and practice group co-chair for the firm’s consumer protection team.

“As we see it, social media platforms also do not take sufficient steps to ensure that minors are not interacting with predatory adults,” Mr. Bilsborrow adds. “The results can be disastrous.”

Concerns across the country are increasing, so much so that dozens of similar cases have been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL). The case is In re: Social Media Adolescent Addiction/Personal Injury Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 3047.

It was formed because, “Social media hubs are intentionally designed to foster addiction, which causes mental health problems for children.” (1) The content displayed is driven by an algorithm. It harms children, teens, and other vulnerable populations psychologically and mentally. In worst-case scenarios, children have committed suicide.

Online Platforms Causing Psychological Harm

Meta Platforms is the parent company of both Facebook and Instagram. All three have been named as defendants. Meta Platforms and other social media companies have designed their applications to be addictive.

Not only that, but they are aware of the psychological harm their content was causing, especially to females under the age of 18. Parents have reported their daughters developing severe anxiety, depression, eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorders, and suicidal ideation. (2)

Social Media Addiction Is Dangerous

Constantly checking in with Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter can be fun at first, but it can also become irresistible — and harmful. Without realizing it, we all may experience a kind of rush when we see large numbers of likes from a Facebook or Instagram post. That’s our brain lighting up, sending us a kind of reward signal that feels good. (3)

From time to time, we find ourselves following feeds or lingering longer on social media than we’d like. But for children, the potential dangers are very real.

Children’s brains are still undergoing change. Their reward centers develop faster and become more activated. The centers can be overstimulated (4)

Without realizing it, children can become addicted through their brain’s reward center. They continue to seek out whatever content and images the social media companies target them to see. (5)

Injuries Due to Social Media Addiction

“These big social media companies are just that, big companies,” emphasizes Mr. Bilsborrow. “Their aim is to make as much money as possible. They aren’t considering the harm their platform causes or who their messaging hurts. Their objective is to keep inventing new ways to expand their reach and increase their bottom line.”

Our lawsuit was filed to help families who have suffered severe harm due to these social media platforms and their actions. Examples of the severe harm caused include:

W&L Is Here to Help

Our fight against these negligent, irresponsible companies is just beginning. We know companies aim to make money, but they should not endanger the lives of others in the process, particularly our young people and children.

Weitz & Luxenberg is currently accepting cases from families harmed by the algorithm and actions of social media companies. Did your child or other loved one develop serious psychological or mental disorders after becoming addicted to social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok? If so, please contact us for more information.

Even worse, if your child attempted suicide or died due to the injurious effects of social media, we encourage you to reach out to us for legal assistance. You may be entitled to compensation.

Call us to discuss joining our class action lawsuit. There is no charge for you to talk with our attorneys to explore your options.

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