Facebook and Instagram have been hit with lawsuits claiming their programs are addictive, especially to young persons, and cause psychological and emotional harm that can last a lifetime. It’s about time. The effects of continuous reinforcement on social media acts to trigger the release of dopamine in the brain, in similar fashion to hard drugs.
Bloomberg reports that victims are fighting back by filing lawsuits in Federal courts:
Eight complaints filed in courthouses across the US over the last week allege that excessive exposure to platforms including Facebook and Instagram has led to attempted or actual suicides, eating disorders and sleeplessness, among other issues.
“These applications could have been designed to minimize potential harm, but instead, a decision was made to aggressively addict adolescents in the name of corporate profits,” attorney Andy Birchfield, a principal at Beasley Allen, the law firm that drafted the suits, said in a statement Wednesday.
The complaints add to a spurt of recent cases against Meta and Snap Inc., including some filed by parents whose children took their own lives. The litigation follows a former Facebook employee’s high-profile testimony in Congress that the company refused to take responsibility for harming the mental health of its youngest users.
One victim who is now 22, Naomi Charles, claims her young life was virtually destroyed and almost lead to her taking her own life.
Meta “misrepresented the safety, utility, and non-addictive properties of their products,” according to the complaint in Miami federal court.
According to Bloomberg,
The claims in the suits include defective design, failure to warn, fraud and negligence. The complaints were filed in federal courts in Texas, Tennessee, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois and Missouri.
With the rise of the Metaverse, the potential damage could be much worse because it is completely immersive, blurring the lines between reality and fantasy.
This should be a warning to parents everywhere to keep their children away from addictive platforms.