Product News and Recalls

Social Media Addiction Lawsuits Move to Consolidated Status

Meta facing class action lawsuit over social media addictionThe Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation recently met to consider whether to consolidate a number of lawsuits alleging that social media companies – in particular, Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta – specifically design their applications to addict their users. Ultimately, the decision was to send the 75 federal lawsuits to the United States District Court in the Northern District of California.

Plaintiffs allege that social media companies “fail to warn minor users and their parents about the risks posed by the products.” Those risks have received increasing attention as of late as studies show that exposure to social media has profound impacts on the mental health and well-being of young users. One user’s claims mirror claims made by others almost identically. A 21-year-old involved in the lawsuits who had been using social media since the age of 10 claims that she developed “social media compulsion, disordered eating, depression, body dysmorphic disorder, multiple periods of suicidal ideation, severe anxiety,” and other issues as a result of her extensive exposure to social media.

Evidence indicates that Meta is fully aware of the impact it has on the users of its apps and has done little to help. In fact, during an internal meeting at Meta headquarters, a slide was shown that stated that “we [Meta] make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls.” Additionally, a former Facebook employee has testified in Congressional hearings on the matter and that testimony indicated that “internal Meta documents show that Defendants were aware of the harm its products cause users, especially female children and adolescents,” according to a lawyer for a plaintiff involved in an ongoing lawsuit against Meta.

Additional evidence supports these claims. A Wall Street Journal report dubbed “The Facebook Files” details a treasure trove of internal Meta documents that show extensive research was conducted within Meta’s walls examining the link between Instagram and its users’ body-image views. A lawsuit born out of the release of The Facebook Files alleges that the documents prove that Meta is fully aware that some of its users become addicted to its platform and while knowing this the company failed to protect young users from sexual images and failed to verify the ages of the young users who were registering accounts. The lawsuit also alleges that the application’s own algorithm suggested connecting these underage users with people “who were, in fact, adult Instagram users either suffering from these mental health issues themselves or using the Instagram product to find and exploit young girls.”