On Wednesday, the mother of a deceased student filed suit against Meta Platforms Inc. and Snap Inc. accusing the companies of providing products to her son that caused social media addiction and debilitating mental health issues, culminating in his suicide. The individual action seeks to hold the defendants accountable for their allegedly dangerous and defective products including Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat.
The complaint notes that the child’s mother never entered into a user agreement or other contractual relationship with either defendant, thereby preventing her from being bound to any arbitration, forum selection, or other restrictive provision set forth therein. She also disaffirmed any that her son may have entered into.
The complaint, like a string of others recently filed in federal courts around the United States against Meta, argues that the defendants did not exercise reasonable care in designing their social media products. Indeed, the lawsuit says that the defendants continued to promulgate and promote their products despite their indisputable awareness of the mental health risks that their platforms pose to teens and children. In particular, the plaintiff highlights Meta’s internal studies revealing how its platforms negatively impact vulnerable teen and child users, leaked after a whistleblower came forward with the papers.
In addition to strict liability and negligence causes of action, the complaint skewers the defendants for the alleged financial benefit they received from facilitating the sexual solicitation and exploitation of the plaintiff’s son and other children.
In her sexual trafficking cause of action, the complainant argues that Meta and Snap allow adult predators to use their platforms and fail to undertake reasonable efforts to redesign them to protect minors from sexual abuse, fail to warn parents of the dangers, and fail to notify law enforcement despite having knowledge about illegal sex acts performed on and through their platforms.
The plaintiff seeks an award of damages, including her son’s lost future income as well as injunctive relief to prevent future harm to other minors. She is represented by the Social Media Victims Law Center PLLC.