Social media is everywhere. Well over half of the world’s population – 4.8 billion people – use some form of social media. Users spend an average of more than two hours per day looking at sites like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or Snapchat. 150 million people became new social media users just between April 2022 and April 2023.
Social media can provide information, entertainment, and connection. But it also has its flaws, and some of them can be serious. New research and subsequent lawsuits by families and even school districts have suggested social media use may be harmful, particularly for those who begin using these apps and websites at a young age.
If you or a loved one used social media websites like YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat for more than three hours a day as a teen or young adult and experienced suicidal ideations or attempts, body dysmorphia, an eating disorder, or self-harmed as a result, you could be owed a settlement.
Read on to learn more about the social media harm lawsuit. You’ll learn about claims being made in the lawsuit and who is eligible to file a lawsuit against social media.
Social media use in teens and young adults
Amid growing concerns about the impact social media may be having on young people, teens and young adults use these platforms at a very high rate, often for long periods of time. According to a 2023 study by Pew Research, about 60% of teens use TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat. The most widely used platform by teens in 2023 was YouTube. And while use of platforms like Facebook has been down by young people in recent years, more than 70% of teens used Facebook from 2014 to 2015.
Along with large numbers of teens and young adults creating accounts on these sites, most are daily users. Many teens surveyed in the study said they used TikTok “almost constantly.” About a third of the teens who participated claimed they used at least one social media platform “almost constantly.”
This near-constant use may be thanks to algorithms that many have called addictive. Algorithms determine what pops up on a user’s social feed and are typically based on other content they’ve interreacted with.
Research on social media harm
The lawsuits against social media come in the wake of a whistleblower’s testimony that top executives at Meta (Facebook, Instagram) nurtured a toxic culture within their company. This culture “overlooks evidence of harm internally while publicly presenting carefully crafted metrics to downplay the issue.” The whistleblower, Arturo Bejar, is a former engineering director and consultant for Facebook. He claims these executives also knew of the harmful effects their apps were having on young people for years but continued to ignore mounting evidence and refused to make changes if they could not be “cheaply and easily” addressed. These known issues include sexual harassment of minors.
Bejar is not the first whistleblower to come forward about social media companies ignoring evidence of harm against children. In 2021, Francis Haugen told Congress executives at Facebook conducted studies that showed negative mental health impacts of using Instagram. As a result of Haugen’s claims, the Facebook Papers were shared with Congress and included many controversial statements such as that tweens are “herd animals” looking for places to fit in.
In one of these studies, 17% of teen girls claimed their eating disorders worsened because of Instagram. In another, 13.5% of the teen girls surveyed said Instagram use made their suicidal ideations worse. Haugen claimed the results of these studies were not being addressed appropriately by Facebook.
What is the social media harm lawsuit?
Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against the companies that own social media websites like Facebook and Instagram. While most lawsuits are being filed on behalf of individuals and families, in some cases, whole school districts and even more than 40 U.S. states have filed lawsuits against social media companies.
These lawsuits claim that social media has knowingly used algorithms specifically designed to be addictive. These algorithms keep users on their websites or apps longer, and that these addictive features especially target children. The material many young people are exposed to through these social algorithms can range from cyberbullying messages to outright promotions of eating disorders.
All this in combination with mounting evidence that executives at social media companies have known of and ignored how their websites and apps can harm young people has led to the lawsuit against social media.
In one lawsuit, the family alleges their daughter’s addictive use of Instagram caused her eating disorder, self-harm, and suicidal ideations. Now 19, Alexis Spence began using social media at age 11 and claims Instagram’s algorithms delivered her content that promoted anorexia, extreme dieting, and purging after she searched for videos about health.
The Spence family is one of thousands in various stages of pursuing a lawsuit against social media.
Am I eligible for the lawsuit against social media?
Law firms are currently building lawsuits against social media. Criteria for new cases we can help with include:
- Used social media before adulthood
- Are currently 25 years old or younger
- Used at least one of the following platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, or YouTube
- Used these social media platforms for at least three hours per day on a regular basis
- Experienced an eating disorder, body dysmorphia, self-harm, suicidal ideation, attempted suicide, or suicide before the age of 21 because of social media use
- Received counseling or other mental health treatment for the related issue
- Had no history of mental health issues prior to social media use
- Are currently 25 years old or younger
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Get help joining the social media harm lawsuit
At Woods and Woods, we have helped people with injuries and disabilities across the country since 1985. If you believe you qualify to join the social media harm lawsuit, contact us today for a free evaluation.
Social media harm lawsuit
Facebook and Instagram are owned by Meta Platforms Inc., Snapchat is owned by Snap Inc., TikTok Ltd. and its parent company ByteDance own TikTok, and YouTube is a subsidiary of Google LLC owned by Alphabet Inc. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube are used here only for the purpose of identifying the social media platforms in question. Woods and Woods, LLC is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or associated with Meta Platforms Inc., Snap Inc., TikTok Ltd., ByteDance, Google LLC, or Alphabet Inc.