This page is about social media addiction lawsuits and who is eligible to bring a claim. Our lawyers also provide the latest social media class action lawsuit news.
The problem that led to social media lawsuits is millions of people – too many of whom are children – are addicted to social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and others. For these vulnerable users, social media addiction can be very harmful and lead to things like eating disorders, depression, and, in some cases, suicide.
Now, these companies are facing a wave of new social media lawsuits alleging that they knowingly designed the algorithms of their platforms to lure young people into harmful addictions.
Our national mass tort lawyers are currently seeking social media addiction lawsuits from individuals who became addicted to social media before age 21 and suffered a severe physical injury as a direct result of that addiction. Physical injuries resulting from social media addiction could include suicide, self-harm, or an eating disorder.
If your child has suffered severe harm as a result of addiction to social media, contact our lawyers today.
Class Action MDL Created for Social Media Addiction Lawsuits
February 21, 2024: A Connecticut judge dismissed a lawsuit against Snap Inc., the company behind Snapchat, involving a young girl identified as C.O. who was harmed by two sex offenders she met through the app. The judge’s decision was based on a law called Section 230, which protects companies like Snapchat from being held responsible for what users do or say on their platform. The girl’s parents sued Snapchat, saying it connected their daughter to the offenders and didn’t do enough to keep her safe. However, the judge said that under current laws, Snapchat can’t be blamed for the actions of its users.
The judge did not seem to love the result but explained that without changes to the law, the court must follow the existing rules, leading to the dismissal of Snapchat. This decision highlights the protection internet companies have under Section 230 from being liable for user actions on their platforms.
The city alleges that these corporations deliberately engage young users on their platforms, contributing to a burgeoning mental health crisis. This strategy, according to the lawsuit, involves designing app features that emulate techniques used in the gambling and tobacco industries to foster addiction among users.
The lawsuit, supported by New York City’s Department of Education and its Health and Human Services Department — the largest of their kind in the United States — targets Snapchat, TikTok, YouTube, and Facebook’s parent company, Meta.
February 13, 2024: A new lawsuit was filed last week on behalf of a 16-year-old who attempted suicide. The lawsuit, filed with her parents, alleges her use of Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok were contributing factors.
My first draft of this update had the city where this family lives and more specific details. But we all have to be vigilant to help victims maintain their privacy.
February 12, 2024: Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers has scheduled the first bellwether trial in multidistrict litigation against Facebook and other social media platforms for late 2025. The judge outlined a detailed schedule leading up to the trial, with jury selection beginning on October 14, 2025.
The specific case to be tried first has not been chosen yet and will not be for some time now. This decision will follow a three-step process, including creating “bellwether discovery pools” for personal injury cases brought by parents and those filed by school districts, narrowing down the pool, and determining the order of the cases to be heard based on arguments in June 2025.
February 9, 2024: The New Mexico attorney general’s lawsuit against Meta Platforms Inc., accusing the company of facilitating child sexual abuse through Facebook and Instagram, has been transferred back to state court. The lawsuit alleges that the platforms serve as a breeding ground for predators targeting children for sex trafficking and allow the trade of vast amounts of child sexual abuse material.
Despite Meta’s usual efforts to hide behind Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the judge determined that the claims are rooted in state law, specifically New Mexico’s unfair trade practices law, without necessarily depending on federal law resolution.
February 7, 2024: Snap, Meta, and other social media companies have requested a California federal judge to dismiss claims made by schools and local governments that argue these platforms’ addictive features have caused harm to students, leading to increased costs for the institutions.
The companies argue that these claims are barred by the First Amendment and the Communications Decency Act, specifically citing Section 230, which they say protects them from being held liable for user experiences on their platforms. They also argue against the imposition of age verification and parental control policies, stating that previous court decisions support their stance against such requirements.
The problem with this argument is that these lawsuits allege these companies should be held accountable for their own actions, not those of third-party users. At their core, these lawsuits are an attack on the harmful product design of platforms like Snapchat, Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram rather than regulating the content or speech on these platforms, which is what Section 230 is all about.
Again, these cases focus on school lawsuits, not the personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits our lawyers are focused on. In any event, the bet is that Judge Gonzalez Rogers will shoot this motion down quickly.
February 2, 2024: In January, six new cases were added to the social media addiction class action MDL in the Northern District of California, which now has 399 pending cases.
January 31, 2024: Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, addressing the families at the Senate hearing, expressed his regret with the words, “I’m sorry for everything you have all been through. No one should go through the things that your families have suffered.” He acknowledged the hardships Facebook has caused, emphasizing his commitment to preventing such incidents in the future by stating, “This is why we invest so much, and we are going to continue doing industry-wide efforts to make sure no one has to go through the things your families have had to suffer.”
January 30, 2024: Yesterday, we discussed how plaintiffs’ social media addiction attorneys have a very different view than the defendants on how fast this litigation should proceed. This chart underscores that difference:
|Plaintiffs’ Proposed Deadline
|Defendants’ Proposed Deadline
(Dates Assume Entry of Plan on February 15, 2024)
|Close of Fact Discovery
|November 15, 2024
(provided no phasing)
|February 19, 2026
|Close of Expert Discovery
|March 1, 2025
(provided no phasing)
|July 9, 2026
(20 weeks later)
January 29, 2024: The plaintiffs and defendants have very different views of how the social media addiction class action lawsuit should proceed to trial.
The plaintiffs want to negotiate a bellwether order, a procedure for selecting specific trials to represent the larger group of cases. This order will include details about which plaintiffs must provide more detailed information (beyond the basic Plaintiff Fact Sheet) during the discovery. The plaintiffs’ social media addiction lawyers want a trial. The plaintiffs are prepared to submit a proposed bellwether order, along with a joint letter, if there are differing views or competing orders. This submission is scheduled to be completed by March 1, 2024.
The defendants acknowledge that they have started discussions on selecting bellwether trials for the personal injury and wrongful death victims. But they believe it’s too soon to set a deadline for submitting the bellwether order for the MDL Personal Injury Plaintiffs. They want to wait until after they’ve received the Plaintiff Fact Sheet data, which they see as a necessary step before making any selections.
Judge Gonzalez Rogers will decide the path. But there is no question she wants to move the cases forward quickly. In an MDL class lawsuit like the social media cases, “quick” is a relative term. The judge wants a trial in 2025. This is quick to mass tort lawyers who are familiar with the game. But it is not so quick for victims who want their settlement compensation or jury payout sooner rather than later.
January 26, 2024: Today, during a case management conference in the California social media lawsuit, Judge Gonzalez Rogers indicated a substantial likelihood of denying two requests from social media companies. These requests were an appeal for a quick decision and an attempt to exclude plaintiffs’ causation experts, which she labeled “entirely premature” and a “waste of my time.”
The judge, overseeing the case since October 2022, addressed the companies’ motion to file an interlocutory appeal against her November order, which partially denied their motion to dismiss. She also addressed their request to prioritize ruling on challenges to the plaintiffs’ general causation experts early in the litigation. While she didn’t make an official ruling at the conference, her comments suggested she was inclined to reject both requests.
Additionally, Judge Gonzalez Rogers expressed a desire to establish a “very aggressive” trial schedule to set trial dates for 2025.
In his response, Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley challenged Zuckerberg, highlighting his status as a billionaire, to “compensate” the families impacted by his company’s platforms.
January 25, 2024: The plaintiffs have served hundreds of Requests for Production (RFPs) on the defendants in the social media class action lawsuit. These RFPs focus on various issues, including organizational and financial aspects, product features and warnings, health and safety concerns, user demographics, marketing strategies, and student safety.
In response, TikTok has already begun addressing specific RFPs, with Meta and other defendants scheduled to follow suit. Additionally, a critical deposition concerning the deletion of certain user accounts is planned.
January 11, 2024: A Case Management Conference is scheduled for January 26, 2024, at 09:30 a.m. This session will take place via a Zoom webinar. The conference, referenced in Case Management Order No. 6, will continue to address ongoing matters in the case.
The parties have submitted competing discovery plans for the court’s review with debate over a protective order concerning the early disclosure of experts and a proposed Electronic Stored Information (ESI) Protocol outlining the management of digital data in the case.
November 2, 2023: Several firms and attorneys are seeking leadership positions in federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) in California, aiming to represent school districts and local governments in cases against tech companies alleged to have harmed young people’s mental health. These legal professionals have submitted applications highlighting their experience and past roles in similar MDLs involving public health issues.
They argue for dedicated representation to address the unique legal challenges and remedies sought by educational and governmental entities, distinct from personal injury claims. The applicants stress the importance of a structured organizational framework to prosecute these cases efficiently, with some already representing major school districts and local governments poised to file or consider lawsuits within this MDL.
January 2, 2023: The JPML ruled last week in the social media harm lawsuits that all pending cases involving allegations of teen addiction to social media platforms will be consolidated into a class action MDL in the Northern District of California. About 80 of these cases are currently pending in federal courts. The lawsuits allege that social media platforms are harmfully addictive for teens, causing them to harm themselves. The new class action MDL will include social media addiction cases against all the various defendants, even though 70% of the cases are Instagram and Facebook addiction lawsuits against Meta.
October 13, 2022: With social media addiction lawsuits being filed across the county rising, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation agreed yesterday to centralize all cases into a new “class action” MDL. The new MDL (In re: Social Media Adolescent Addiction/Personal Injury Prod. Liab. Lit. – MDL No. 304) has been assigned to the Northern District of California, where most defendants are headquartered.
The JMPL Initial Transfer Order consolidates 28 cases pending in 17 different judicial districts. Centralizing a large group of related cases into an MDL is usually the first step toward a global settlement, and this is frequently done in mass tort product liability cases.
The social media addiction lawsuits involve new and unique legal claims that will likely sink or swim collectively based on whether the plaintiffs can present sufficient scientific evidence to avoid preemptive dismissal of the cases. The MDL class action will help that cause by allowing the plaintiffs to pool resources and present the best possible expert opinions.
Social Media Platforms Target Teens
Over 90% of all teens in the U.S. use social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. Studies estimate that the average teen spends around three hours daily engaging with social media platforms. Instagram is among the most popular social media platforms for young people and teenagers. Instagram recently reported that it has over 57 million users under 18.
The social media companies such as Meta Platforms (the parent company of Facebook and Instagram) have intentionally designed their products to maximize users’ screen time. They do this by employing complex algorithms designed to exploit human psychology. Meta and other social media constantly update and modify their products to promote excessive consumption.
Social media platforms have created user interfaces that intentionally display contend that is often irresistible to young users. The “feed” features on most social media platforms continuously show young users an endless stream of content that the algorithm curates based on a data profile of the user’s interests.
Teens are Especially Vulnerable to the Dangers of Social Media Addiction
Scientific research shows that the human brain is still developing during adolescence. Teenage brains are not fully developed in regions related to risk evaluation, emotional control, and impulse control. The algorithms utilized by major social media platforms intentionally exploit the lack of fully developed impulse and emotional control in the brains of adolescent users.
When teens get “likes” on social media, their brains release dopamine, which causes euphoria dopamine. However, as soon as dopamine is released, their euphoria is countered by dejection: minor users’ brains adapt by reducing or “downregulating” the number of dopamine receptors that are stimulated.
With normal forms of positive stimulation, the returns to neutral after a brief period. However, social media algorithms are designed to exploit users’ natural tendency to counteract by returning to the source of pleasure for another dose of euphoria.
Eventually, as this pattern continues over months and years, the neurological baseline for triggering the teen users’ dopamine responses increases. Teens then continue to use Facebook and Instagram, not for enjoyment, but to feel normal. When teens attempt to stop using social media products, they experience the universal symptoms of withdrawal from any addictive substance, including anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and craving.
Addictive use of social media by minors is psychologically and neurologically analogous to addiction to internet gaming disorder. Gaming addiction is recognized as a mental disease by the World Health Organization and other public health agencies.
Social Media Companies Profit From Teen AdSocial media companies’tions
The revenues and companies are directly tied to the amount that users spend on the platform. More users spending more time equals more money.
For this reason, social media companies are constantly adapting their technology to maximize user engagement, which makes the platform more addictive to vulnerable teen users.
In October 2021, a former Facebook (Meta) employee testified before Congress that executives at the social media company made marketing and business decisions that put teen users at risk. The former employee told lawmakers that Facebook was aware that its platforms were harming teens.
How Social Media Addiction Can Harm Young People
A rapidly growing body of scientific research (including internal research by the social media companies themselves) has shown that addiction to social media can result in severe emotional harm and potentially physical harm for teens. This research, coupled with what we know about what these companies did to foster addiction, drive the social media lawsuit.
In 2018, a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found a clear correlation between time spent on social media platforms and mental health issues, depression, and social ideation among adolescents. The study findings found that excessive use of social media correlated to an increase in self-harm behavior.
In 2021, the results of a long-term study by BYU on the impact of social media on teens found that teenage girls who used social media for 2-3 hours a day had a clinically higher risk for suicide. Research performed by the social media companies themselves confirmed the harm caused by these platforms. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Facebook performed internal research that found significant mental health issues related to Instagram use by teenage girls, including suicidal thoughts and eating disorders.
Lawsuits Against Social Media Companies for Harm Caused by Teen Addiction
Over the last year, a growing number of product liability lawsuits have been filed against Meta and other social media companies, seeking to hold them liable for injuries resulting from teen addictions to social media platforms. These lawsuits are being brought by teens and/or their parents. Nearly all of the lawsuits filed so far have been brought against Meta for addictions to its Instagram or Facebook platforms.
The social media harm lawsuits allege that platforms such as Facebook and Instagram were designed in a way that made them addictive and, therefore, unreasonably dangerous to adolescent users. The lawsuits also claim that the social media companies negligently failed to warn minor users and their parents about the risks of addiction and resulting harm.
The plaintiffs in these social media addiction lawsuits are seeking damages for severe physical and emotional injuries allegedly suffered as a result of teens becoming addicted to Instagram and Facebook. Injuries alleged in the lawsuits include self-mutilation, self-harm, severe eating disorders, and death from suicide.
Class Action MDL Sought for Instagram Addiction Lawsuits
In August 2022, one of the plaintiffs bringing an Instagram addiction harm lawsuit against Meta filed a motion with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) requesting that all other Instagram addiction harm lawsuits in federal courts be consolidated into a new class action MDL. The motion identified 28 similar lawsuits pending in various federal district courts alleging harm resulting from teens becoming addicted to Instagram and Facebook.
These cases have been consolidated in a California social media class action lawsuit that houses all federal claims.
Social Media Companies May Claim Legal Immunity
Under 47 U.S.C. § 230, website platforms have immunity from liability for content posted by third parties. This law has been the subject of serious political debate in recent years. Social media companies have come under fire for not removing what some people viewed as “harmful” material or “disinformation.” The scope of immunity under § 230 is currently the subject of an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
This law will likely be inapplicable to social media addiction lawsuits. Although § 230 gives platforms like Facebook immunity for harm caused by user content, it does not give them immunity for harm caused by their own technology and algorithms, which are alleged in the addiction lawsuits.
Will Social Media Addiction Lawsuit Be Successful?
The lawsuits seeking to hold social media companies liable for harm caused by addiction to their platforms are clearly unique and, in many ways, unprecedented. None of these cases have gone to trial or settled. These cases involve somewhat novel tort claims, and the plaintiffs will face a tough uphill battle on many fronts.
One of the most significant pitfalls for these social media addiction lawsuits will be proving causation. First, the plaintiffs will need to scientifically prove that there was a physical addiction to the platform. Studies on this have been conducted, but it’s not certain whether these would meet the level of academic scrutiny necessary to be admissible in court.
Even if the plaintiffs can prove that there was an actual addiction to a social media platform, they will also need to prove that the addiction was “more likely than not” the cause of the physical harm suffered by the teen. In a suicide case, this might be very difficult because social media addiction will likely be just one of several contributing causes.
Potential Settlement Amounts for a Social Media Addiction Lawsuit
It is very premature to say with any level of certainty what the settlement value of Facebook and other social media addiction lawsuits might be. At this point, it’s not even sure that any of these lawsuits will be successful. For the purposes of discussion, however, we can speculate on what these cases might be worth if successful.
Social media addiction cases involving teen suicide would have the highest potential settlement value. A wrongful death claim involving a teenager with their whole life ahead of them would typically have a value range of $1.5-$5 million, depending on the circumstances. Certain wrongful death suicide cases could be worth even more.
Those social media addiction lawsuits with less severe injuries, such as self-mutilation or an eating disorder,r would have a much lower value.
What Are the Major Injuries in a Social Media Lawsuit?
Let’s look at the type of injuries that the social media lawsuits involve:
- Addiction/Compulsive Use: Social media platforms are designed to be engaging and can lead to compulsive use or addiction. This is often due to the platforms’ use of algorithms that encourage prolonged engagement, potentially leading to neglect of other activities and responsibilities.
- Eating Disorders:
- Anorexia: Exposure to content promoting unrealistic body standards can contribute to anorexia, where individuals develop an obsessive fear of gaining weight and severely limit their food intake.
- Bulimia: Similarly, exposure to certain content on social media can contribute to bulimia, characterized by periods of overeating followed by puging due to body image issues.
- Binge Eating: Social media can also influence binge eating behaviors, where individuals consume large amounts of food quickly, often triggered by stress or emotional content online.
- Other Eating Disorders: Various other eating disorders can be influenced by the content and interactions on social media, including exposure to diet culture and body shaming.
- Depression: Constant comparison with others, cyberbullying, and exposure to harmful or distressing content on social media can contribute to feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and depression.
- Anxiety: Overuse of social media can lead to heightened anxiety stemming from social comparison, fear of missing out (FOMO), and exposure to anxiety-inducing content.
- Suicidality: Exposure to content related to suicide or being part of online communities that discuss self-harm can increase suicidal thoughts, particularly in vulnerable individuals. This and sex abuse are the worst injuries our social media attorneys are seeing in these lawsuits, and surviving family members certainly may be eligible for a lawsuit. We discuss this more just below.
- Attempted Suicide: There can be an influence on suicide attempts due to the glorification or normalization of such actions in certain social media circles.
- Death by Suicide: Tragically, social media can play a role in some individuals’ decisions to take their own lives, especially when they are exposed to suicidal content or cyberbullying.
- Other Self-Harm: This includes various forms of self-injurious behavior, which might be influenced by content seen on social media or as a coping mechanism for the distress experienced due to online interactions.
- Child Sex Abuse: The presence of predators on social media and the sharing of explicit content can lead to cases of child sexual abuse.
- CSAM Violations (Child Sexual Abuse Material): The distribution and access to illegal child sexual abuse material can be facilitated through specific platforms, contributing to this serious issue.
- Other Physical Injuries: This can include a range of physical injuries that may be indirectly caused by social media use, such as accidents occurring while being distracted by social media (we add this for completeness – our lawyers are not handing distracted claims)
Social Media Suicide Lawsuits
Social media can potentially contribute to suicidal behavior in several ways. Here are some ways in which social media might play a role:
- Cyberbullying and Harassment: Persistent online bullying or harassment can lead to feelings of isolation, depression, and hopelessness, particularly among adolescents and young adults, which can contribute to suicidal thoughts and behaviors. What do social media companies do to stop this? Not much.
- Exposure to Suicidal Content: Exposure to posts, images, or videos discussing or glorifying suicide can influence vulnerable individuals, particularly if they are already struggling with mental health issues.
- Social Comparison and Low Self-esteem: Constant exposure to idealized representations of others’ lives can lead to negative self-comparison, decreased self-esteem, and feelings of inadequacy, which can contribute to depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts.
- Isolation and Lack of Real Connection: Excessive time spent on social media can lead to decreased face-to-face interactions and a sense of social isolation, which is a known risk factor for depression and suicide.
- Online Echo Chambers: Being part of online communities that promote harmful behaviors, including self-harm or suicidal ideation, can normalize these behaviors and make them seem like viable options to vulnerable individuals.
- Sleep Disruption: Overuse of social media, especially before bedtime, can disrupt sleep patterns. Poor sleep is linked to a variety of mental health issues, including an increased risk of depression and suicidal thoughts.
- Triggering Content: Users may come across triggering content related to trauma, self-harm, or other sensitive topics that can exacerbate underlying mental health issues.
Who Are the Social Media Defendants?
Here are the key social media defendants:
- Meta Platforms, Inc., formerly known as Facebook, Inc.
- Instagram, LLC
- Facebook Payments, Inc.
- Siculus, Inc.
- Facebook Operations, LLC
- ByteDance Ltd.
- ByteDance Inc.
- TikTok Ltd.
- TikTok LLC.
- TikTok Inc.
- Snap Inc.
- Google LLC
- YouTube, LLC
Lawsuits against Facebook/Meta
Meta, the company responsible for operating and designing Facebook and Instagram, two of the world’s most popular social media platforms, is probably the number one defendant in this litigation. In 2022, the staggering user statistics revealed that Instagram had two billion active monthly users worldwide, while Facebook boasted almost three billion monthly active users. While these numbers showcase Meta’s enormous reach, they also underscore the extensive damage suffered by plaintiffs and other adolescent users of these platforms.
Meta Knew What It Was Doing
Meta’s own internal documents reveal that it was well aware of the negative consequences of what Facebook and Instagram were doing to children. It acknowledged that children under 13 were using Instagram despite being prohibited from doing so. Furthermore, Meta recognized that its Facebook and Instagram – especially Instagram, obviously for kids – platforms were addictive, with teenagers feeling pressured to engage with them constantly. The company admitted that its existing tools did not limit users’ screen time.
Addictive use of Instagram was acknowledged to lead to significant problems. Still, the company is accused of what so many big lawsuits are about – it put growth and profits over the well-being of children. Despite being warned about issues related to problematic use, bullying, harassment, and the impact on young users, Meta failed to take substantial action. Instead, it maintained the status quo, citing concerns that addressing these problems might negatively affect the company’s growth.
Pretending to Try to Solve the Problem
Meta allegedly tried to help the problem with mere public relations gestures, with internal documents suggesting they were not taken seriously. The company provided tools such as “time spent” features to parents and kids, even though it knew that the data presented by these tools was inaccurate.
Additionally, Meta is accused of engaging in a campaign to discredit research about the addictive nature of its products, calling it “completely made up.” In contrast, its internal research highlighted the unique dangers posed to young users.
Despite this knowledge, Meta’s failure to protect child users of Instagram and Facebook has drawn significant attention. Instead of addressing the problems caused by its platforms, the company cut funding for its mental health team and deprioritized addiction-related issues. These actions have raised concerns about the company’s commitment to user safety.
How They Did It
Contact Us About a Social Media Addiction Lawsuit
If you or your child has suffered severe physical or emotional harm as a result of addiction to social media, contact our lawyers today at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.