Instagram and Snapchat sued over death of 11-year-old Connecticut girl

A Connecticut woman has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Snapchat and Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, claiming the social media giants have not done enough to protect her daughter from “harmful content and abusive” before his suicide.

The 11-year-old died last July after struggling for two years with “extreme addiction” to Instagram and Snapchat, according to the lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco. The mother’s lawsuit was brought by the Social Media Victims Law Center, a group founded last year that seeks to hold social media companies accountable.

Hearst Connecticut Media Group withholds the family name because the daughter was underage.

“It’s not a matter of opinion. Internal documents and testimony from a former employee before Congress reveal that Meta Platforms was fully aware of the flaws and addictive properties of its social media platforms and failed to adequately design its products to protect underage users against damages,” Matthew Bergman, founder of the center and an attorney representing the mother in the suit, said in a statement.

In his statement, Bergman said “no protections are in place on Snapchat” and that the girl’s death “is a direct result of the inaction and deliberate addictive design of these social media platforms to addressing vulnerable children”.

Meta did not immediately respond Friday to a message seeking comment.

A Snapchat spokesperson said in a statement that the company was “devastated” by the news of the girl’s death, and “our thoughts are with her family.”

“While we cannot comment on specifics of active litigation, nothing is more important to us than the well-being of our community,” the company’s statement read. The spokesperson also pointed out that the app does not include “some of the public pressure and social comparison features of traditional social media platforms” and “intentionally” makes it harder for strangers to connect with younger users. .

“We are working closely with many mental health organizations to provide integrated tools and resources to Snapchatters as part of our ongoing work to keep our community safe,” the spokesperson said.

The lawsuit comes as social media companies have come under intense scrutiny of their practices by lawmakers, after internal Facebook documents were leaked by a former employee and reported by The Wall Street Journal .

The Connecticut mother’s complaint asks that damages be specified in a jury trial. He is also seeking a court order against the two social media companies “to end the harmful conduct alleged herein” and “remedy the unreasonably dangerous algorithms of their social media products.”

The lawsuit also asks the courts to order the companies to “provide warnings to underage users and their parents that the defendants’ social media products are addictive and pose a clear and present danger to unsuspecting minors.”

The lawsuit also claims the apps “do not allow for parental controls,” limiting the mother’s ability to monitor her daughter’s social media usage and requiring her to “physically confiscate” the daughter’s devices. According to the lawsuit, this caused the girl to “run off to access her social media accounts on other devices.”

In the months leading up to her death, the girl “experienced severe sleep deprivation which was caused and aggravated by her addiction to Instagram and Snapchat, and the constant stream of 24-hour notifications and alerts.” , says the lawsuit.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

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