Updated: Nov 2, 2022
Are Meta Platforms, Inc. and Snap, Inc. Negligent?
How big of a role does social media play in young people's mental health? Donna Dawley filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the companies behind the most prominent social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat after her seventeen-year-old son committed suicide.
Let's look at the allegations and how it works legally:
Who Is The Plaintiff, And What Led To The Wrongful Death Suit?
The plaintiff, in this case, claims that the defendants, Meta Platforms, Inc. and Snap, Inc., promoted harmful content on their social media platforms. Donna Dawley also emphasized that Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat were created and marketed to minors.
It is also claimed that all the abovementioned platforms are well-aware of the children below thirteen years old allowed to use such platforms, despite claiming there would be restrictions on usage from such a young audience. With Meta Platforms, Inc. and Snap, Inc. aware of their userbase, Dawley alleges that they have willfully encouraged advertisers to show ads to users who are thirteen years of age and below.
What Is The Claim Against Meta Platforms, Inc. and Snap, Inc.?
Meta Platforms, Inc. and Snap, Inc., the defendants, are alleged to have knowingly built and marketed addictive social media platforms. All of this despite knowing that the content and the products are harmful to their minor audiences, whose presence on said platforms isn't regulated or restricted as stated.
Dawley also noted that neither Meta nor Snap warned users or their parents about the possible harm their platforms could bring. Additionally, they've knowingly designed algorithms that cause harmful addiction to the social media sites they created.
On the other hand, Meta has launched their Family Center, which would allow parents to monitor underage children's use of their site, allowing them to track usage hours, set limits, and get a notification should the teens report harmful content like suicide.
Where Does Wrongful Death Come Into The Lawsuit?
The plaintiff's son, CJ, made accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat and became increasingly addicted to social media platforms. Dawley claims that her son's constant use of said platforms would eventually result in sleep deprivation, insecurities, and so on.
Although he didn't show outward signs of depression, CJ would eventually end his life after he texted a friend, posted on Facebook, and wrote a note to his parents. CJ's parents are now working on suing large corporations to hold them responsible for exposing children or minors like CJ to harmful content and products.
How Does Wrongful Death Work Legally?
So, how to file a wrongful death lawsuit, how does it work, and how does it apply in this case?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil claim that enables a plaintiff to sue a negligent party. The goal is to seek damages for the injuries or losses someone experienced due to the negligent party's actions. The way it works is as follows:
The responsible party has a duty of care. In this case, Dawley alleges that Meta Platforms, Inc. and Snap, Inc. were responsible for protecting underage users from the possible harmful effects of addictive social media platforms.
The defendants failed to deliver the duty of care. Meta Platforms, Inc. and Snap, Inc. have been alleged to not put safeguards against young users from being exposed to the harmful effects of social media and have created an algorithm that doesn't restrict the use of the platform and the content that young users are exposed to.
The negligence or failure to deliver duty of care caused injury or death. Dawley alleges that Meta Platforms, Inc. and Snap, Inc. did not do anything about the harmful usage and content that caused depression, insecurity, and sleep deprivation that eventually led to CJ's suicide.
If successful, the plaintiff may be awarded monetary compensation for financial and emotional losses that they suffered due to the negligence.