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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – The Montgomery-based Beasley Allen law firm has filed federal lawsuits against Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of social media giants Facebook and Instagram. The suits allege the social media company exploits young people for profit, using “addictive psychological tactics” against young users in order to increase the use of their products.

The suits, filed on behalf of eight plaintiffs from across the country, allege that the prolonged exposure to the platforms has led to such side effects as suicides, attempted suicides, self-harm, eating disorders, severe anxiety, depression, and a reduced inclination or ability to sleep.

“The defendants knew that their products and related services were dangerous to young and impressionable children and teens, yet they completely disregarded their own information,” said Beasley Allen attorney and Mass Torts Section Head Andy Birchfield. “They implemented sophisticated algorithms designed to encourage frequent access to the platforms and prolonged exposure to harmful content.”

Beasley Allen said documents revealed during a 2021 U.S. Senate hearing with Meta (known as Facebook at the time until a name change) revealed the company knew for years that its platforms cause adverse psychological effects and physical health problems in young people, especially young girls.

Meta testified during that hearing that its products did not prioritize engagement over safety.

The plaintiffs say they want to hold the company responsible for what they believe is Meta’s role in a youth mental health crisis. Claims from the lawsuit include “defective design, negligence, and failure to warn.”

“Social media use among young people should be viewed as a major contributor to the mental health crisis we face in the country,” Birchfield added. “These applications could have been designed to minimize any potential harm, but instead, a decision was made to aggressively addict adolescents in the name of corporate profits.

Copyright 2022 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.

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