Latest developments in causes and treatments



Zuckerberg Avoids Personal Liability in Social Media Addiction Lawsuits

On Monday, April 15, a U.S. District Court judge dismissed 25 cases charging Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg with intentionally designing harmful features into Facebook, Instagram, and other Meta products. The judge granted Zuckerberg’s request to not be held personally liable, however, the cases against Meta are proceeding.

According to Business Insider, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers is “overseeing hundreds of other lawsuits against social media companies, including Alphabet, Bytedance, and Snap, which accuse the platforms of causing negative mental and physical health effects in children due to social media addiction.”

The companies tried to get the cases dismissed, but in a ruling last November, Judge Rogers rejected their petition. The lawsuits accuse the companies of “illegally enticing and then addicting millions of children to their platforms, damaging their mental health… including anxiety, depression, and occasionally suicide.”

Reuters says that Judge Rogers presides over lawsuits by 140 school districts that have sued to cover the additional costs resulting from the mental health services required for kids damaged by social media addiction. Just two weeks ago, we reported here at AddictionNews about Canadian school districts suing social media companies to recover millions in additional expenditures required due to social media addiction.

Business Insider also recently reported that Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, YouTube, and their parent companies were being sued by the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and the Spirit Lake Tribe of North Dakota in response to shockingly high teen suicide rates the tribes blame on social media. The lawsuits allege:

Soaring suicide and mental illness have devastated Tribal communities and have pushed already chronically underfunded mental health programs to the breaking point.

The tribes accuse the social media companies of deliberately building in features, such as “loot boxes” that reward compulsive use and lead to impulse control problems. In her ruling on April 15, Judge Rogers explicitly rejected the tech companies’ claims to immunity and, according to Reuters, “Rogers said the companies legally owed a duty to their users arising from their status as product makers and could be sued for negligence over their duty to design reasonably safe products and to warn users of known defects.”

The battles between care providers and tech giants have only just begun. What started as a trickle of lawsuits has swollen to hundreds of lawsuits and soon will be thousands of lawsuits from school districts, state attorneys general, medical care providers, insurers, and others seeking to put an end to health-damaging design and to be reimbursed for their added expenses.

Written by Steve O’Keefe. First published April 18, 2024.


“Zuckerberg isn’t on the hook for kids’ Instagram addiction, a judge just ruled,” Business Insider, April 16, 2024.

“Social media companies must face youth addiction lawsuits, US judge rules,” Reuters, November 14, 2023.

“Native teens are nearly 4 times as likely to commit suicide. Tribes suing Meta, Google, TikTok, and Snapchat say social media addiction fuels the problem,” Business Insider, April 10, 2024.

Image Copyright: Artapixel used under Creative Commons license.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *