Technology and Media | Consumer Fraud Protection

Instagram Eating Disorder Lawsuit

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Instagram is a popular social media app for young people, but research has shown that it may be dangerous for teens and young adults. If you or your child developed an eating disorder that you believe was caused by social media, we may be able to help you seek justice from Meta through an Instagram eating disorder lawsuit.

Alleged links between Instagram and eating disorders

Instagram, like other social media platforms, has allegedly been linked to a wide range of mental health issues. Given its picture-heavy focus, the use of Instagram may cause or worsen a number of body image issues and eating disorders.

Studies showing a link between Instagram and eating disorders include:

  • A study of Australian adolescents found correlations between avoidance of posting selfies, photo investment, photo manipulation, and investment in others’ selfies on platforms like Instagram and eating disorders.
  • A study of children in grades seven and eight found that greater daily use of Instagram was linked to higher scores for disordered eating for young girls.
  • A study of preadolescents found that users of Instagram, YouTube and TikTok reported more issues with body image and eating disorders than non-users.

These studies by researchers are not the only points of evidence that Instagram may cause or worsen eating disorders. Insiders at Meta, the parent company of Instagram, have publicly discussed the platform’s impact on young people’s mental well-being.

What Meta knows about Instagram’s impact on young people

Young people creating an Instagram account is a crucial component of the company’s business model. However, internal research conducted by Meta has found a consistent pattern of harm for children and teens.

According to documents leaked to the Wall Street Journal, researchers at Meta found that young people—but mostly teenage girls—are more likely to suffer from body image issues thanks to social comparison if they use Instagram. Leaked company slides from 2019 and 2020 reveal that the company knew that about one in three teen girls have body image issues after using Instagram. One in ten teen boys feels worse about themselves and four in ten experience negative social comparison, according to the company’s research.

Meta’s internal researchers didn’t present evidence that it was a concern across social media apps. Instead, the researchers reported that their findings of harm to teens were unique to the way Instagram operates.

Instagram operates on an algorithm-based approach to keep users engaged. In internal documents, former Facebook researchers reported that the company designed its algorithm to keep kids engaged despite knowing that their platforms were having a negative impact on the mental health of teens.

Instagram continues to target young people for their platform. In 2018, the company spent a significant portion of its marketing budget trying to get kids between the ages of 13 and 15 to join the app. In 2020, the company introduced Reels, a short video feature designed to entice kids who had begun to drift toward TikTok.

As of October 2023, 33 state attorneys general have filed suit against Meta for attempting to keep young users on their platforms through the design of Facebook’s and Instagram’s algorithm and interface. Eight other states and the District of Columbia have filed separate lawsuits against Meta with similar claims.

Contact an Instagram eating disorder lawyer

You may be eligible to sue if you or your child has suffered negative mental health effects from using social media platforms like Instagram. Contact Motley Rice today for more information about a social media lawsuit.

Contact a social media lawyer today.
 

Is there an Instagram lawsuit for eating disorders?

Yes, individuals can file a lawsuit alleging that they or their children developed an eating disorder or had one worsen from using Instagram. As of April 2024, more than 270 personal injury cases are pending against social media companies.

These cases have been consolidated in multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Northern District of California. Previn Warren, a Motley Rice member attorney, has been appointed co-lead counsel for the social media harm MDL. Additional personal injury cases related to eating disorders allegedly caused by social media addiction are consolidated in the Superior Court of Los Angeles in front of Judge Carolyn Kuhl.

Warning signs of eating disorders

If you’re a parent who is worried that your child might be experiencing eating disorders because of their use of Instagram, help is available for you. The National Eating Disorder Association is available online at nationaleatingdisorders.org or by phone toll-free at 1-800-931-2237.

Below are some signs of eating disorders that you can look out for.

Anorexia warning signs

Anorexia is a type of eating disorder in which people limit the type and amount of food they eat. They regulate their food intake to lose weight, partly because they have a negative body image. The condition is typically accompanied by mental, physical and behavioral changes. Warning signs of anorexia include:

  • Skipped or irregular periods
  • Inability to properly assess body weight and shape
  • Denial of the seriousness of low weight
  • Dry skin, brittle nails and/or thinning hair
  • Constant feelings of fatigue or cold
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Obsession with food, calories and dieting
  • Poor concentration and focus
  • Intentional vomiting
  • Sudden changes to dietary preferences
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide

Bulimia warning signs

Bulimia is an eating disorder in which individuals regularly consume a large portion of food before taking steps to purge it from their bodies. Like anorexia, people with bulimia have behavioral, mental and physical symptoms. Warning signs of bulimia may include:

  • Dehydration
  • Fainting
  • Feelings of guilt or shame about eating
  • Frequent visits to the bathroom, particularly after meals
  • Gastrointestinal problems such as constipation and acid reflux
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Muscle weakness
  • Preoccupation with body image
  • Social withdrawal from friends and family

Our experience helping families stand up to tech companies

Motley Rice attorneys have worked for decades fighting for families and people. Our experience includes representing people dealing with tech companies and the harm they’ve caused.

Our law firm can help you if you or your child developed an eating disorder or had one worsen because of time spent on Instagram. We can assist you in filing a lawsuit for social media harm. Your well-being is important to our team.

Read more about our experience standing up to tech companies.

Help for self-harm and suicidal behavior

If you or a loved one are in crisis, national resources can help immediately.

  • You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. This free and confidential call will connect you with a trained staff member. You can also visit their website: 988lifeline.org.
  • You can contact the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) toll-free number at 1-800-931-2237. The association’s website can also direct you to resources at NationalEatingDisorders.org.