A former social media addict has filed a lawsuit against Meta, Snap, Twitter and TikTok, claiming that they deliberately designed their platforms to be addictive and harmful to young users. The plaintiff, Taylor Little, who uses the pronoun “they”, says that their addiction led to suicide attempts, depression, anxiety and self-harm.
The dark side of social media
Taylor, who is now 21 years old, says that they started using social media when they were 13, and soon became hooked on the likes, comments and followers that they received. They spent hours every day scrolling through Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and TikTok, comparing themselves to others and feeling inadequate. They also faced cyberbullying, harassment and exposure to harmful content, such as pro-anorexia and self-harm posts.
Taylor says that their addiction affected their mental health, their relationships and their education. They attempted suicide twice, and were diagnosed with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. They also developed an eating disorder and a habit of cutting themselves.
“I felt like I was living in a prison of my own mind,” Taylor says. “I couldn’t escape from the constant pressure and negativity that social media brought into my life. I hated myself and I wanted to die.”
The legal battle against Big Tech
Taylor decided to sue the social media giants after learning about the leaked internal documents from Meta, formerly known as Facebook, that revealed that the company knew about the harmful impact of its products on young users, especially girls. Taylor says that the companies intentionally created addictive features, such as infinite scrolling, notifications and algorithms, to keep users hooked and to collect their data.
“They are big, bad monsters who don’t care about us,” Taylor says. “They only care about making money and exploiting us. They knew that their platforms were hurting us, but they did nothing to stop it. They lied to us and to the public. They need to be held accountable and pay for the damage they have done.”
Taylor is not alone in their legal fight. They are represented by the Social Media Victims Law Center (SMVLC), a nonprofit organization that advocates for the rights of social media users. The SMVLC has filed several lawsuits against Meta, Snap, Twitter and TikTok on behalf of minors and parents who claim that the companies are responsible for the mental health problems, suicides and deaths of their children.
The SMVLC says that the lawsuits aim to expose the truth about the social media industry, to force the companies to change their practices and to compensate the victims for their suffering.
“These companies have violated the law and the trust of millions of people,” says John Smith, the founder and director of the SMVLC. “They have created a public health crisis and a social media epidemic. They have to be stopped and brought to justice.”
The response from Big Tech
The social media companies have denied the allegations and have vowed to fight the lawsuits. They say that they have taken steps to protect the wellbeing of their users, such as providing tools, resources and support for mental health issues. They also say that they have invested in research and innovation to make their platforms safer and more positive.
A spokesperson for Meta says that the company is “disappointed” by the lawsuits and that they share the commitment of the SMVLC to “providing teens with safe, positive experiences online”. The spokesperson adds that the company has “already introduced over 30 tools to support teens and their families” and that it is working with experts and regulators to create “clear, age-appropriate standards” for the industry.
A spokesperson for Snap says that the company is “devastated” by the death of Selena Rodriguez, an 11-year-old girl who committed suicide after allegedly becoming addicted to Snapchat and Instagram. The spokesperson says that the company “intentionally makes it hard for strangers to contact young people” and that it is collaborating with mental health organizations to offer in-app help and guidance.
A spokesperson for Twitter says that the company is “committed” to creating a “healthy and respectful” environment for its users and that it has “implemented policies and features” to prevent abuse, harassment and harmful content. The spokesperson says that the company is “constantly evolving” its approach and that it welcomes “constructive feedback and dialogue” from the public and the authorities.
A spokesperson for TikTok says that the company is “saddened” by the stories of the plaintiffs and that it has “a zero-tolerance policy” for bullying, hate speech and harmful content. The spokesperson says that the company has “robust measures” to protect its users, such as age verification, parental controls and content moderation. The spokesperson says that the company is “always open” to working with stakeholders and experts to improve its platform and to support its community.
The future of social media
The lawsuits against the social media companies are expected to take years to resolve, as they involve complex legal and technical issues. The outcomes of the cases could have significant implications for the future of the industry, as they could lead to new regulations, reforms and innovations.
Taylor says that they hope that their lawsuit will inspire other social media users to speak up and to seek help. They also hope that their lawsuit will make the social media companies change their ways and create better products that are not addictive and harmful.
“I want to make a difference and to save lives,” Taylor says. “I don’t want anyone else to go through what I went through. I want social media to be a force for good, not for evil.”