Consumer Fraud Protection | Technology & Media

Facebook Mental Health Lawsuit

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Facebook overuse has been connected to negative mental health outcomes. Some users are suing Meta Platforms, Inc. (Meta), alleging it designed its apps to hook users in a way that damages their mental health.

The dangers of Facebook

Multiple studies link social media use to a number of mental health problems. Children and young adults are at particular risk. A young person’s brain and sense of self are still developing. This makes them more susceptible to the input and reward designs of platforms like Facebook. 

One analysis looked at the findings from 13 studies on the effects of social media use on users aged 13 to 18. Researchers found several types of behaviors that can contribute to mental health problems related to social media, including: 

  • Being dependent on social media (addictive behavior)
  • Investing effort in the active use of social media
  • Devoting extreme amounts of time to social media
  • Repeatedly checking for messages

Teens and children with these behaviors may be at risk for serious mental health issues from Facebook addiction.

Facebook mental health effects

Studies report negative mental health effects associated with minors using social media. Several have linked Facebook use to depression. Research paints a picture of a youth mental health crisis with social media at the center. 

Further analysis of 13 studies found a correlation between social media use and depression, anxiety and psychological stress. Facebook-specific studies also reported depression-related problems like insomnia.

Reports also claim young people using social media apps may also be at an increased risk for: 

  • Anxiety
  • Body dysmorphia
  • Damage to body image and self-worth
  • Death
  • Depression
  • Dissociative behavior
  • Eating disorders
  • Exposure to predators 
  • Increased risky behavior
  • Insomnia
  • Self-harm
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Social isolation
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Withdrawal symptoms
     

Many people have more than one social media account. Having multiple accounts is associated with increased anxiety in adolescents. Among teen users, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram are very popular. Meta is a defendant in social media lawsuits around Instagram, which it also owns. 

In need of help?

If you or a loved one is struggling with suicide ideation, please seek medical help. Also know that free, confidential support is available 24/7 through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline if you dial 988. Visit the Lifeline online at https://988lifeline.org/.

The National Eating Disorder Association is also available online at nationaleatingdisorders.org or by phone toll-free at 1-800-931-2237. 

State attorneys general take legal action against Facebook

Government officials are taking the damaging effects of social media seriously. Most state attorneys general have sued Meta and other social media companies. These lawsuits allege Meta platforms are intentionally designed to addict young people. 

For example, dozens of attorneys general filed a lawsuit in California. This lawsuit alleges that Meta engaged in efforts “to misrepresent, conceal, and downplay the impact of ... features on young users’ mental and physical health.” 

Officials are also taking action beyond lawsuits. 

  • New York Attorney General Letitia James and other officials proposed a new state law to protect children online. 
  • The Senate has held hearings on social media’s relation to mental health. This included testimony from a former Facebook data analyst. She stated Meta knows how to make Facebook safer for young people, but will not implement these safety measures because they may impact profit. 
  • Congress is considering several bills to protect youth on the internet and hold social media companies accountable:
    • The “Revising Existing Procedures on Reporting via Technology Act” (or “REPORT Act”) aims to strengthen the reporting of online child sexual exploitation to the CyberTipline and modernize the liabilities for such reports.
    • The “Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act” (or “EARN IT Act”) establishes a National Commission on Online Child Sexual Exploitation Prevention responsible for developing voluntary best practices, and “imposes basic accountability on tech companies that are complicit in the sexual abuse and exploitation of children.” 
    • The “Strengthening Transparency and Obligations to Protect Children Suffering from Abuse and Mistreatment Act” (or “STOP CSAM Act”) creates transparency requirements for online platforms; increases accountability for online platforms knowingly hosting, storing, promoting, or facilitating the distribution of CSAM; improves reporting of CSAM; and increases protections for child victims testifying in court and receiving restitution.
    • The “Kids Online Safety Act” (or “KOSA”) requires social media companies to “provide minors with options to protect their information, disable addictive product features, and opt out of personalized algorithmic recommendations; gives parents new controls to help protect their children and spot harmful behaviors; creates a duty for online platforms to prevent and mitigate specific dangers to minors such as promotion of suicide, eating disorders, substance abuse, and sexual exploitation; and requires independent audits and research into how these platforms impact the well-being of children.”

This increased awareness of social media's dangers is a promising step toward creating real change. But companies like Meta have seemingly harmed and continue to cause harm to young people’s mental health.

Contact a social media mental health attorney 

Motley Rice is reviewing allegations that multiple social media platforms, including Meta platforms like Instagram, intentionally and deliberately designed their social media apps without regard for the safety of children.

Our thoughts go out to those affected by suicide, self-harm and eating disorders worsened by social media. 

Call Attorney Jonathan Orent at 1.800.768.4026 or complete this form to explore your options. 

Social media multidistrict litigation

As part of our efforts to hold Meta accountable, Motley Rice has filed numerous individual lawsuits against the company. Many of these lawsuits are consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (or MDL), which is a process where related cases get grouped in federal court for pretrial matters but are heard and resolved individually. 

Our clients allege Meta failed to protect people from the harms of its platforms and did so despite evidence of notable risks associated with using Instagram and Facebook. Our clients also allege Meta designed Instagram with addictive features designed to hook minors. 

The plaintiffs in these cases argue the actions of Meta and other social media companies caused them or their children mental harm. 

Our social media lawsuit experience

Motley Rice attorneys have worked for decades fighting for families and people. Our experience includes representing people suing tech companies over harm they’ve suffered. If you or your child attempted or died by suicide, was treated for self-harm, or were diagnosed by a health care professional with a mental health disorder that you believe was worsened by social media and you need help filing a lawsuit for social media harm, please contact us. Your well-being is important to our team.

Read more about filing a social media lawsuit.