Meta Lawsuit -
Facebook & Instagram
Meta, the large, powerful social media corporation behind Facebook and Instagram, has long evaded accountability while knowingly harming children and teens who use its platforms. With a proven history of holding large corporations accountable, the product liability lawyers at the Lanier Law Firm are committed to helping injured children and families recover substantial compensation through a social media addiction lawsuit. Contact us today at 1-800-723-3216 for a free case evaluation.
Meta Platform Inc. is the social media company that owns Facebook and Instagram. These platforms each boast more than 2 billion monthly active users as of January 2023, according to Statista. These users include significant numbers of youth. Today’s youth are facing a massive mental health crisis, and social media networks may be to blame.
In October 2021, Francis Haugen, a data scientist who worked for Facebook, turned over tens of thousands of pages in documents showing that Facebook has long been aware that its platforms harm the mental health of teens and children. However, they continued to make conscious decisions to prioritize profits over safety.
Meta platforms made approximately $69.7 billion in advertising revenue in 2019 alone, and the social media giant directed most of its advertising at young users. At the same time, Meta designed its platforms to keep users online as long and often as possible, knowingly exploiting young people’s incomplete brain development to foster social media addiction.
Today’s youth are experiencing markedly higher incidences of self-harm, eating disorders, and suicides than youth 10, 20, and 30 years ago. These companies will not stop until they are held accountable. If you or your child has suffered significant harm because of social media, our social media lawyers may be able to help you recover significant compensation.
Why should I choose the Lanier Law Firm to handle my meta lawsuit?
Our attorneys at the Lanier Law Firm are nationally recognized lawyers with vast experience in complex litigation against large companies. Our law firm has been named one of the best law firms in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, and our attorneys are regularly recognized with such honors as Super Lawyers, Lawyer of the Year, and Best Lawyers in America.
This recognition comes about as a result of the significant case results we consistently achieve on behalf of our deserving clients, including the following:
- $9 billion against Takeda & Eli Lilly for cancer risk in the diabetes drug Actos
- $4.69 billion verdict against Johnson & Johnson, which was appealed all the way to the Supreme Court and ultimately upheld for $2.1 billion
- $417 million verdict in a business fraud case against Amoco
- $253 million verdict against the makers of Vioxx
- $56.3 million verdict against Caterpillar Inc. and Holt Texas for a construction worker’s paralysis caused by defective equipment
- $6.2 million attorney fees recovered against Bank of America for attorney fees
Successfully standing up to large companies requires resilience and a reputation for being tough in the courtroom. Our trial lawyers are among the most skilled in the nation, having earned such acclaim as “most impressive plaintiffs verdict” and “most feared law firms.”
We provide personalized legal care to every client and refuse to give up until we get justice. We treat our clients like family, and it shows in the feedback we regularly receive, such as the following:
The Lanier Law Firm is in a class of its own. In addition to Mark Lanier, one of the most talented lawyers who has ever practiced law, the firm has a deep and impressive bench of lawyers capable of handling even the most complex and important litigation. The firm and its lawyers have my highest recommendation. — Clay Crawford
The Lanier Law Firm is totally awesome. When I have had bad days they have lifted me up. They truly care. You do not find that at very many places. I feel so blessed having them and all they have done for my family. They are family. They are the best of the best. — Carla Hunter
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Our Featured Social Media Lawyers
Mark Lanier is the founder of the Lanier Law Firm, which he established in 1990. He is well-known for his creative and sometimes unconventional approaches to presenting cases in court, including the use of props and cutting-edge technology. He is often recognized for his talent at connecting with juries.
Throughout his remarkable career, Mark Lanier has won nearly $20 billion in settlements and verdicts in complex cases against large companies, including cases involving toxic substances, consumer products, dangerous drugs, and defective medical devices. He is currently handling an antitrust lawsuit against Google on behalf of multiple state governments.
He has been featured in well-known publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and Bloomberg News. He is a frequent guest on major news networks.
Mark Lanier also serves as a legal educator. He is widely sought after by leading attorneys for educational development and keynote speeches. He often lectures at the nation’s top law schools, including Harvard Law School, Stanford Law School, and Pepperdine University School of Law.
His acclaim includes the following honors:
- Most Impressive Plaintiff Verdict of 2019 by Courtroom View Network
- Lawdragon’s 500 Leading Lawyers in America
- National Trial Lawyer’s Hall of Fame
- National Law Journal’s Top 10 Trial Attorneys and 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America
These children are being taken advantage of. There are algorithms and enticements within so many of these programs that actually are altering our children’s minds, making them not only addicted to the content and pursuing these computer uses, but it also is one that is affecting their self-esteem, their social skills, and so much more. – Mark Lanier
Zeke DeRose is a nationally recognized commercial litigation attorney with extensive experience handling complex litigation against massive companies, including antitrust cases, merger disputes, and whistleblower lawsuits in federal and state courts.
He was recognized as one of the Best Lawyers in America in 2023 and was previously recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers. He also received the “Pro Bono Champion Award” from the Texas Civil Rights Project.
As the dedicated father of three children, Zeke DeRose understands what is at stake in social media litigation.
One of the great things about working at the Lanier Law Firm is the opportunity to work on cases you’re passionate about, the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives, not only individuals, but communities, states, and sometimes, even across the globe. And I think that’s the opportunity we have here…. – Zeke DeRose
How has Meta harmed youth?
Marc Zuckerberg and other Meta executives have publicly claimed they are dedicated to safety. However, they have disregarded their own internal research showing that their products harm young users and have refused to take basic, reasonable steps to make them safe.
As a result, Facebook and Instagram have substantially contributed to the youth mental health crisis in the United States and worldwide.
Meta platforms use carefully researched algorithms that manipulate young users to stay online as long as possible. These algorithms exploit the immature brain development of adolescents by using social cues to create dopamine loops.
Adolescents are uniquely sensitive to the addictive algorithms on Facebook and Instagram because they have a stronger social drive than adults, which can be more powerful than hunger or greed. Young people also have less self-control because the emotional centers of their brains are more dominant.
As a result, young people develop very real addictions to the platforms and cannot stop using them. According to the United States Surgeon General, “If we tell a child, use the force of your willpower to control how much time you’re spending, you’re pitting a child against the world’s greatest product designers.”
Exposure to Harmful Content
Children and teens who use Meta products are exposed to cyberbullying, sexual exploitation, and sexually explicit content. They are in danger of becoming victims of human trafficking while using the platforms. They may encounter drug pushers, hateful and inciting content, and content depicting disordered behaviors, including eating disorders and self-harm.
Self-Comparisons on Instagram
Although Facebook is no longer a favored platform among teens, social media statistics show that nearly two-thirds of teens use Instagram, which at least one study has shown is the most detrimental to mental health. This development is most likely due to Instagam’s encouragement to compare oneself to others.
Instagram allows users to create an ideal photo using filters on their selfie images. Other users compare their real-life bodies and faces to others’ idealized versions, making users feel worse about their bodies.
Although social media is generally considered a tool for connecting to others, it increases feelings of isolation and depression. Heavy users are twice as likely as others to be depressed. The longer girls use social media, the higher the likelihood they will engage in self-harm. Boys are adversely impacted also, but not to the same extent.
Excessive and Problematic Use
Excessive and problematic social media use has resulted in the following adverse effects on youth:
- Body image dysmorphia
- Eating disorders
- Suicide attempts
- Drug addiction
- Declining academic performance
- Mood disorders, including depression and anxiety
How is Meta liable?
Meta may be liable for social media harm under the doctrine of strict liability, which holds manufacturers and suppliers liable for products that harm consumers due to a dangerous design, manufacturing defect, or failure to warn.
This area of civil law is known as product liability. In a lawsuit, Instagram and Facebook are the products, and Meta, as the creator and distributor of the platform, is the manufacturer.
The Facebook Whistleblower
The internal documents Frances Haugen provided to federal authorities contained incriminating information that proves Meta knew its product harmed children. According to Ms. Haugen, Facebook’s own research shows that angry, inciting, and negative content gets more engagement.
Meta built Facebook’s profit model on engagement. The longer they can keep users on the platform, the more money they make from advertising revenue. Facebook has numerous choices of content to display in any user’s feed. However, it shows negative content because it is more profitable.
Facebook research shows that scrolling on social media is a self-soothing behavior. Negative content causes depressive feelings, creating a stronger urge in children and teens to self-soothe, prompting them to stay on the platform longer. This creates a vicious cycle.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook’s internal documents contained the following information:
- More than 40 percent of teen Instagram users in the United States and the United Kingdom feel “unattractive” from using the app.
- One in five teens feels worse about themselves from using Instagram.
- Teens with existing mental health problems report that Instagram worsens them.
- Approximately 32 percent of teenage girls who use Instagram feel worse about their bodies from using the app.
- Among suicidal users, 13 percent of British and 6 percent of American users report that the desire to kill themselves originated with Instagram use.
Haugen also reported that Facebook’s research revealed that 17 percent of teen girls say Instagram worsens eating disorders.
In a written statement to Congress, Haugen stated the following:
“The company’s leadership knows ways to make Facebook and Instagram safer and won’t make the necessary changes because they have put their immense profits before people.”
The evidence Haugen courageously made public demonstrates that Facebook has knowingly designed a dangerous product that has harmed young users. This is a central allegation in the lawsuits against Meta.
The Arkansas Attorney General’s Facebook Meta Lawsuit
On March 28, 2023, the Lanier Law Firm filed a lawsuit against Meta on behalf of Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin in response to the significant mental health crisis in the state attributable to Instagram and Facebook. The Arkansas crisis reflects the teen mental health emergency nationwide.
The lawsuit against Meta seeks damages for the harm that allegedly stemmed from the following:
- The exploitation of the vulnerability of adolescents’ brain development for profit, fueling a 60 percent increase in major depressive episodes
- Algorithms that involve endless scrolling, creating harmful experiences
- Manipulation of the brain reward system in youth to alter behavior, create habits, and cause addiction
- Well-timed feedback to draw users back to the platform after they leave
- Addictive algorithms utilizing techniques similar to gambling slot machines
- Psychological and neuropsychological manipulation to increase engagement and time spent on platforms to maximize profits, including the social validation feedback loop
- Encouragement of social comparison and displacement of healthy life activities like sleep, exercise, and real interaction
- The creation of fake realities and interactions for youth in a world defined by social media to exploit them for profit
- Injuries to the health and comfort of the community of the state of Arkansas
- Instagram photo filters that encourage unhealthy body image
- The fueling of the mental health crisis among Arkansas’s youth
- Deceptive and unconscionable trade practices
- Public nuisance
- Unjust enrichment at the expense of the state and the citizens.
The Arkansas Attorney General is seeking the following damages:
- An injunction prohibiting Meta from continuing to operate their deceptive and harmful business practices
- Civil penalties of $10,000 per violation
- An order that Meta must abate the nuisance and prevent it from recurring
- Forfeiture of profits
- Equitable relief to fund preventive education and treatment for problematic social media use
- Actual and compensatory damages
- Statutory damages up to the maximum allowed by law
- Reasonable attorney fees and costs
- Pre-judgment and post-judgment interest
- Any other relief the court deems just and proper
What evidence supports the attorney general’s claims?
The evidence supporting Attorney General Griffin’s claims includes the observable effects on youth, the overwhelming need for mental health services, and the overt methods Meta uses to keep users online. The entire nation, not just Arkansas, is experiencing these effects.
Visible Mental Health Effects
The attorney general has received reports that 42.9 percent of youth in Arkansas felt so sad or hopeless in 2021 they stopped activities they usually enjoyed for two weeks or more. During the same year, 21.8 percent of high school students in Arkansas seriously considered suicide, and 10.4 percent attempted it at least once.
The youth surveyed felt unable to control their anxiety, and only 22.2 percent reported getting sufficient sleep. They identified mental health harm as the most significant barrier to learning.
Cyberbullying has increased so severely among Arkansas youth that authorities have implemented mental health awareness in public schools.
The Overwhelming Increase in Demand for Mental Health Services
State-funded mental health programs have become overwhelmed by the number of youth needing services. As a result, youths cannot access help when needed due to extensive waiting lists. Arkansas’ mental health care cost has been staggering, and the state will need significant long-term funding to abate the nuisance Meta has created.
The Nature of Meta’s Platforms
The addictive nature of Meta’s platforms is apparent in the way it keeps young users engaged.
Instagram and Facebook create neverending streams of video, photo, text feeds, and advertising with no natural endpoint that moves children and teens into a flow state. They become immersed in the experience, distorting their perception of time.