Social Media Companies Sued Over 11-Year-Old Girl’s Suicide
Meta and Snap, the parent companies of Facebook and Instagram, are being sued by the mother of an 11-year-old girl who took her own life last year. Her mother contends that the girl was hopelessly “addicted” to social media and that is what led to her death. The lawsuit has been filed in concert with growing fears about the impact that social media is having on the very young and the very old. The lawsuit has been filed by the Social Media Victims Law Center (SMVLC). The SMVLC says that her mother confiscated her social media devices on multiple occasions, but the girl would escape to use social media. They contend that she had an “extreme” form of social media addiction.
Additionally, the girl was in treatment for social media addiction before the suicide occurred. One care provider commented that she had never seen a patient as addicted to social media as she was. Before her death, the girl allegedly suffered from sleep deprivation and depression, both of those worsened by the quarantine during the pandemic when we all relied more on social media to stay connected.
Lastly, the girl was hounded for sexual pictures of herself which she shared with someone who leaked the photos to classmates. This resulted in the further decline of her emotional state. The social media giants are accused of purposefully designing their products to encourage dopamine production and addiction.
A complicated situation
Generally, you cannot sue someone after a loved one commits suicide. However, encouraging suicide is (sometimes) considered illegal, especially if the individual carries out the suicide. Suicide caused by addiction or depression, or a host of mental health issues is generally not compensable, UNLESS, you can prove that the company leveraged the mind’s innate operant conditioning to create the addiction in the first place.
To make that sort of an argument, you would need the expert testimony of psychiatrists and clinicians who have worked with social media addicted individuals before. Technically, an addiction occurs when you have a compulsion that you cannot control, and this compulsion impacts your daily life in a way that makes it unmanageable. But you cannot sue booze companies over your alcoholism. So, there is no analog in the law for a lawsuit of this type. The only allegation that would force the lawsuit before a jury is that companies like Instagram and Facebook are algorithmically creating the conditions necessary for addiction by exploiting the dopamine channel.
Dopamine is released when something really good happens. You won the game, you won your lottery ticket, you just met a new person you like. But if it’s released for simple things that happen all the time, then the brain won’t release it for other things. Hence why dopamine addictions often result in severe periods of depression after the addictive material has been taken away.
But this lawsuit will be difficult to win because it requires a very technical brain-chemistry argument. Those with ADHD would be particularly susceptible to this dopamine algorithm.
Talk to a Tampa Personal Injury Attorney Today
The Tampa personal injury lawyers at the Matassini Law Firm files lawsuits on behalf of grieving families who have lost loved ones to negligence or malice. Call today to discuss more concerning wrongful death lawsuits and how they proceed.