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Can You Sue A Social Media Company For Product Liability?

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Several lawsuits have been filed against Meta (Facebook), Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and other social media sites claiming that the sites prey on the psychological health of teens, resulting in a greater risk of suicide. In other cases, social media companies have been blamed for causing car accidents (Snapchat) and exposing teens to morbid content (Facebook). Some developed “obsessions” with their social media profile, lost sleep, and saw their mental health degenerate to the point that they took their own lives.

The question then becomes: Are these sights responsible for the psychological health of the users? According to the law, they are only responsible for the content that they themselves publish. They are not responsible for third-party content. This has created an immunity shield around Facebook that prevents them from being held individually liable for these cases.

Social media lawsuits

 Allegations against social media companies include:

  • Creating dangerous apps that encourage speeding leading to car accidents
  • Funneling depraved hopeless algorithm-based content after someone runs a search for suicide, eventually leading to their suicide
  • Encouraging dangerous conduct like the “choking game” which leads to health problems and death
  • Encouraging terrorist activity in foreign countries by promoting blood libel
  • Being used for human trafficking

There may be some that were left out. Often, the allegations involve a question of bullying, but also, major changes to a teen’s personality, addictive behavior, and a question of whether the social media companies are fostering that addictive behavior.

Are these cases winnable? 

It’s hard to say whether or not the individual cases are winnable based on a theory of product liability. It may be that formats like Facebook are so new that we don’t know how to regulate them properly. Meanwhile, the company is hiring psychologists to make the platform as addictive as possible, often mining negative emotions like anger and rage to that end. So, it’s kind of like having a powerful tool that we don’t know how to control.

Whether or not the cases are winnable is its own matter entirely. We may yet have legislation that allows the social media company to be held accountable for its conduct. In fact, the legislation we do have protects social media companies from being held liable for third-party content. This is despite the fact that the content is curated by Facebook’s algorithms.

In other words, the law is the result of lobbying efforts of social media giants and does not very much care about whether the public is protected. As more problems emerge, that may change.

Talk to a Philadelphia Product Liability Lawyer Today 

Green & Schafle represent the interests of Philadelphia residents who have been injured by a dangerous or defective product. Call our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.

Source:

reuters.com/legal/litigation/product-liability-cases-watch-2023-2022-12-30/

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