Social Media Lawsuit: Youth Mental Health Crisis

Facebook Faces Federal Lawsuits Over Youth Mental Health Crisis

Beasley Allen lawyers filed lawsuits on behalf of eight plaintiffs across the country against Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, for exploiting young people for profit, employing addictive psychological tactics to increase the use of their product, and failing to protect young, vulnerable, and at-risk users.

“The defendants knew that their products and related services were dangerous to young and impressionable children and teens, yet they completely disregarded their own information,” said Beasley Allen attorney and Mass Torts Section Head Andy Birchfield. “They implemented sophisticated algorithms designed to encourage frequent access to the platforms and prolonged exposure to harmful content.”

According to the lawsuits, prolonged exposure to the platforms has led to actual or attempted suicides, self-harm, eating disorders, severe anxiety, depression, and a reduced inclination or ability to sleep, among other reported injuries.

The lawsuits, filed in Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas— claim that Facebook and Instagram deliberately designed their products to be manipulative and addictive, regardless of their extensive insider knowledge of the damaging psychological effects of prolonged exposure to these applications.

These cases address the harms detailed during the hearing on Oct. 5, 2021, before the U.S. Senate, entitled “Protecting Kids Online: Testimony from a Facebook Whistleblower.” The hearing occurred on the heels of thousands of leaked research documents from inside Facebook. The documents revealed the company knew for years that its platforms cause adverse psychological effects and physical health problems in young people, especially young girls.

“Social media use among young people should be viewed as a major contributor to the mental health crisis we face in the country,” said Andy Birchfield of the Beasley Allen Law Firm in Montgomery, Alabama. “These applications could have been designed to minimize any potential harm, but instead, a decision was made to aggressively addict adolescents in the name of corporate profits. It’s time for this company to acknowledge the growing concerns around the impact of social media on the mental health and well-being of this most vulnerable portion of our society and alter the algorithms and business objectives that have caused so much damage.”

Claims from the lawsuits include defective design, negligence, and failure to warn, among other claims.

Beasley Allen lawyers representing the plaintiffs are Birchfield, Joseph VanZandt, Clinton Richardson, Jennifer Emmel, and Seth Harding.

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