The Social Media Lawsuits claim that Meta Platforms, Inc. (Meta) and its social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram, makes billions of dollars each year by exploiting its most vulnerable users—children.
Lawsuits against Meta allege that Facebook and Instagram knowingly built these social media platforms using algorithms specifically designed to lure young people into a destructive addiction. Excessive exposure to the platforms has led kids and young adults to develop eating disorders, self-harm, and suicidal ideation.
Our lawyers are investigating cases on behalf of kids, parents, and young adults who:
- Used one or both Meta platforms (Facebook and/or Instagram)
- Commonly uses or has used the platforms more than 3 hours per day
- Started using the platforms before the age of 21
- Suffered one or more injuries or conditions investigated related to their use of the platforms
- Anorexia/bulimia/eating disorder
- Self-harm/suicidal ideation/suicide attempt/suicide
- Received treatment or counseling for the injury or condition
Since 1955, we have represented individuals who suffer harm from giant corporations like Meta. You will see our firm’s attorneys listed in The National Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame and the Best Lawyers in America. We also launched Mass Torts Made Perfect, an annual conference that attracts more than 1,500 attorneys who gather to learn from our lawyers how we successfully handle these complex cases.
If you or your minor child has suffered injuries resulting from Meta’s harmfully addictive social media platforms, please contact our office today for a free case review: (800) 277-1193.
What Do We Know About the Meta Social Media Lawsuits?
On June 7, 2022, attorneys for Jessica Guerrero (on behalf of minor plaintiff S.G.) filed a lawsuit against Defendants Meta Platforms, Inc., Facebook Holdings, LLC, Facebook Operations, LLC, Facebook Payments, Inc., Facebook Technologies, LLC, Instagram, LLC, and Siculus, Inc., in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware (Guerrero v. Meta Platforms, Inc., et al).
The minor, S.G., is a 17-year-old girl who began engaging in “addictive and problematic use” of the Meta social media platforms shortly after registering as a user on these platforms. S.G.’s alleged addiction-related injuries include:
- Attempted suicide
- Suicidal ideation
- Eating disorder(s)
- Severe anxiety
- Reduced inclination or ability to sleep
A Business Model That Thrives on Harming American Youth
Nine out of ten teens use Facebook and/or Instagram, spending an average of three hours daily on the platforms. This exposure wields long-lasting negative impacts on teens’ still-developing brains and puts their mental health at risk.
How Facebook and Instagram Work
The social media platforms’ user interfaces sort content to display at the top that is irresistible to young users. This content builds a “false reality” related to beauty, success, and wealth, causing teens to experience negative physical or social comparison. The platforms’ algorithms also promote harmful “controversial, disturbing, negative, and/or emotionally charged” content, the Guerrero lawsuit alleges.
How the Social Medial Platforms Harm Teens
According to the lawsuit, research has shown that “…social media facilitates cyberbullying, contributes to obesity and eating disorders, instigates sleep deprivation to achieve around-the-clock platform engagement, encourages children to negatively compare themselves to others and develop a broad discontentment for life, and has been connected to depression, anxiety, self-harm, and ultimately suicide ideation, suicide attempts, and completed suicide.”
How Meta Benefits From These Harms
Despite knowing of these detrimental effects, Meta constructs its business models around maximizing user engagement, affecting an egregious breach of the public trust.
Advertising on Meta social media platforms generated $69.7 billion for the company in 2019. These revenues are made possible through the exploitation of users. Meta collects and analyzes data on its users so advertisers can conduct micro-target advertising. Because more screen time yields more data and more money for Meta, the company deploys complex algorithms and artificial intelligence “to exploit human psychology,” the lawsuit alleges.
Whistleblower Testifies That Facebook and Instagram Puts Profits Before People
On October 4, 2021, former Facebook employee Frances Haugen appeared before the U.S. Senate to testify that Facebook leadership makes choices that harm children. Haugen stated that during her time at Facebook, decision-makers “repeatedly encountered conflicts between its own profits and our safety” and “consistently resolved those conflicts in favor of its own profits.
The whistleblower underscored that by cherry-picking what information billions of users encounter, Meta, can and does control people’s “deepest thoughts, feelings, and behaviors” and is effectively “shaping their perception of reality.”
Besides cranking up the volume on existing, violence-inducing extremism, division, and polarization, Haugen said that the Facebook machine optimizes profits by cultivating self-harm and self-hate, with vulnerable groups, like teenage girls being the most likely victims. According to Haugen, the social media company’s internal research has repeatedly confirmed these consequences.
In short, “Facebook became a $1 trillion company by paying for its profits with our safety, including the safety of our children,” Haugen said.
Timeline of Events Pertinent to Meta Social Media Lawsuits
- July 29, 2004: Meta was originally incorporated in Delaware as “The Facebook, Inc.”
- September 20, 2005: The social media company changed its name to “Facebook, Inc.”
- September 2021: The Wall Street Journal begins publishing articles based on internal Facebook documents revealing, among other things, how Instagram exacerbated teen girls’ negative self-image.
- October 22, 2021: Other news outlets begin publishing articles based on The Facebook Papers, documents provided by lawyers of Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen.
- October 4, 2021: Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen appeared before the U.S. Senate to testify that Facebook leadership was aware of the harmful effects its social media platforms have on youth and society.
- October 28, 2021: The company assumed its current name of “Meta.”
- June 7, 2022: Attorneys for Jessica Guerrero file a personal injury lawsuit against Meta.
What Are the Main Legal Issues Involving the Meta Social Media Lawsuits?
The Plaintiff in the Guerrero case argues the following:
Meta’s defective design of its social media products is not safe for users and is particularly harmful to minors. It is technologically and economically feasible for the company to adjust this design to lower the harm to users.
Failure to Warn
The Defendants failed to adequately warn minor users and their parents of the mental, physical, and emotional dangers of using Meta social media platforms.
Facebook and Instagram developers deviated from the platforms’ design, presenting a risk of serious injury or death, and causing the platforms to perform less safely than intended by their original design.
Meta knew or should have known that its social media products harm a significant percentage of its minor users, and yet the company did not redesign its products to reduce the dangers of its platforms.
Meta prioritized profit over safety by implementing a business model based on product features designed to increase the frequency and duration of users’ engagement, despite knowing of their addictive nature and the significant harm to teens and other users.
The Defendants marketed and promoted the social media products as being safe, despite knowing of the risks these products posed to users’ mental and physical health. The Defendants concealed this information from the public.
Injuries & Side Effects of Meta’s Defective and Addictive Social Media Algorithms
Meta’s research shows that Facebook’s and Instagram’s design, marketing, advertising, and promotion produce multiple harmful effects, including:
- Social media addiction
- Body dysmorphia
- Suicidal ideation
- Thoughts of self-harm
- Eating disorder
- Anorexia nervosa
- Bulimia nervosa
- Death by suicide
- Death by eating disorder
- Lack of focus
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of vision
- Eye strain
- Other harmful effects
Rather than warn users of these potential harms, the Defendants refined their platforms to increase addiction and exposure to these harms.
What Compensation Could You Recover in a Meta Social Media Lawsuit?
The amounts that claimants can receive in Meta Social Media verdicts or settlements depend on a wide range of factors, including the type and extent of their injuries. Generally, this type of action could involve several types of recoverable damages, including (but not limited to):
- Past and future medical treatment and expenses
- Past and future lost income
- Past and future pain and suffering from injuries, as well as treatment and recovery
- Past and future diminished enjoyment of life
- Diminished earning capacity
- Possible punitive damages
Our attorneys will work to recover the maximum financial compensation for losses stemming from Meta’s defective social media platforms’ designs and marketing practices.
Meta Social Media Lawsuit News
October 6, 2022, Bloomberg News
The US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has consolidated in California federal court numerous lawsuits alleging that Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms cause addiction and self-destructive behavior in adolescents. Meta, Snap, Others Face Social Media Injury Suits in California
June 12, 2022, New York Post
Multiple lawsuits against Meta Platforms allege that the company exploits young people for profit and uses addictive psychological tactics to lure people into using their social media products. Meta, Instagram Hit With 8 Lawsuits for ‘Exploiting Young People for Profit’
April 13, 2022, Business Insider
Seventeen-year-old Christopher Dawley became addicted to Facebook and Snap, and his mental health and body image paid the price. Dawley committed suicide, and his family is suing the social media companies for designing addictive products and failing to protect minors. Facebook and Snap Sued By The Family of Teenager Who Says He Became Addicted to the Apps and Killed Himself
November 21, 2021, The Atlantic
New York University social psychologist Jonathan Haidt explores how the harm that comes to adolescent girls from social media has surged with the proliferation and expansion of these sites. According to Haidt, “Harm to teens is occurring on a massive scale.”The Dangerous Experiment on Teen Girls
October 25, 2021, Bloomberg
An internal Facebook report presented to the company’s Chief Product Officer highlighted a marked drop in the social media platform’s teen user base. The loss raised concerns at the company, which relies on teens’ unique selling points for advertisers: a lack of established brand preferences and the ability to set “cultural norms.” Facebook, Alarmed by Teen Usage Drop, Left Investors in the Dark
October 10, 2021, NPR
According to Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, the company uses tools like engagement-based ranking on Instagram to steer children from benign topics to harmful ones—such as those promoting anorexia—in a short period. Haugen leaked Meta research showing that Instagram worsened body-image issues for one out of three teen girls. Teens Say Facebook's Addictive Instagram App Makes Them Anxious
September 14, 2021, New York Post
While Facebook pushes the mental-health benefits of its platform, the company’s internal studies show that Instagram harms teenage girls by amplifying body image issues, anxiety, and depression. Facebook Knows Instagram Hurts Teen Girls But Publicly Downplays Concerns: Report
September 14, 2021, Wall Street Journal
Internal research at Facebook reveals the harm that Instagram poses for teen girls. Facebook Knows Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls, Company Documents Show
September 29, 2021, The Verge
The Verge shares decks from Facebook’s internal research on the impact of Instagram on the mental well-being of teens. The slides make it clear that the company knew about the negative effects their social media network has on teens’ mental health. This Is Facebook’s Internal Research on the Mental Health Effects of Instagram
May 20, 2021, Health Matters
Dr. Anne Marie Albano, co-clinical director of the Youth Anxiety Center at New York-Presbyterian and professor of medical psychology in psychiatry at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, talks to Health Matters about the mental health symptoms experienced by youths who spend more time on social media. Many problems stem from the ”culture of comparison” mindset these platforms enable and nurture. Is Social Media Threatening Teens’ Mental Health and Well-being?
Scientific Studies and Reports About the Dangerous Effects of Social Media on Youth
Scientists Find That The Impact of Social Media On Wellbeing Varies Across Adolescence (University of Cambridge—March 8, 2022)
International scientists studying the link between social media use and “life satisfaction” discovered that girls could be more vulnerable to the unhealthy effects of social media at different times than their male counterparts.
Associations Between Time Spent Using Social Media and Internalizing and Externalizing Problems Among US Youth (JAMA Psychiatry—December 1, 2019)
Researchers aimed to determine whether daily social media use is linked to adolescents’ internalizing and externalizing problems. They concluded that adolescents who spend more than three hours per day on social media could suffer a higher risk for mental health problems, especially related to internalizing their problems.
Roles Of Cyberbullying, Sleep, and Physical Activity In Mediating The Effects of Social Media Use on Mental Health and Wellbeing Among Young People in England: A Secondary Analysis of Longitudinal Data (Lancet Child Adolesc Health—October 2019)
The mental health harm to girls who frequently use social media could stem from a combination of cyberbullying or disruptions to sleep or physical activity.
Social Media Use and Adolescent Sleep Patterns: Cross-Sectional Findings From the UK Millennium Cohort Study (BMJ Open 2019)
Late sleep onset was the most significant, but just one of multiple, associations between social media use and sleep patterns among adolescents in the UK. The identified sleep timing and quality outcomes from social media youth among subjects included sleep onset and wake times, sleep onset latency, and trouble falling back asleep after waking up at night.