Meta is facing 8 lawsuits that claim Facebook, Instagram lure young people into addiction for profit

Business Insider US
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
  • Eight lawsuits filed last week accuse Meta of making its platforms addictive to young users.
  • The lawsuits claimed that the addiction drove users to self-harm or made them develop disorders.
  • The lawsuits refer to the Facebook Papers that showed that Meta knew how harmful its platforms were.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

Meta is facing a fresh set of lawsuits that accuse the company of deliberately making two of its platforms, Facebook and Instagram, addictive to young people in order to profit from them.

Beasley Allen Law, the law firm that filed the eight lawsuits last week, said that the young users were driven to self-harm or developed eating disorders and sleeplessness after excessive use of Facebook and Instagram. The lawsuits were filed in Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas.

"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 Andy Birchfield, a Beasley Allen attorney, in a statement on Wednesday.

One of the suits was filed on Monday by a Tennessee mother who claimed that her 15-year-old daughter's heavy use of Meta's products led her to suicidal ideation and self-harm. 

According to court documents seen by Insider, the woman's attorneys said the daughter received notifications from the apps all day, causing her to become addicted to the apps. 

She also grappled with an eating disorder, severe anxiety, depression, and poor sleep, per the lawsuit.

The lawsuit said Meta failed to warn the daughter and her mother "of the dangers of addiction, sleep deprivation, and problematic use of the Meta platform(s)." It also claimed that the company "misrepresented the safety, utility, and non-addictive properties of their products."

The set of lawsuits followed the revelation late last year that Meta had long known that its platforms could harm young users' psychological and physical health. The disclosures were captured in the Facebook Papers, a trove of internal documents that whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee, leaked to the media. The documents included an internal Facebook presentation from 2019, which admitted: "We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls."

Since the leak, Meta has been hit by several lawsuits. On Monday, a California family filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming that "addictive" usage of Instagram made their daughter develop an eating disorder. And in January, a Connecticut mother sued Meta and Snap for their "dangerous and defective social media products," which she says resulted in her daughter's suicide.

A Meta spokesperson told Bloomberg on Wednesday that its platforms now have features that allow parents to monitor their children's usage and offer notifications that remind users to take a break from its apps. Meta did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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