New York City is suing social media firms for allegedly harming the mental health of children

After defining social media as a “Public Health Threat” It’s late January in New York now to sue For Meta, Google, Snap and TikTok “A Nationwide Youth Mental Health Crisis is Exacerbating.” Specifically, these companies face three counts in the lawsuit: public nuisance, negligence, and gross negligence. Mayor Eric Adams’ administration accuses TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and YouTube of “endangering our children’s mental health, promoting addiction, and encouraging dangerous behavior.”

These are allegedly achieved through manipulation through malicious algorithms, gambling-like mechanisms and interactions – forcing the user to “reciprocate one positive action with another positive action”. The city believes it exists correlation between the rise in social media use and the decline in mental health of Indigenous youth “over a decade”.

In response, Google and Meta said CNBC they have always worked with youth safety experts and provided parental controls. ByteDance’s TikTok also highlighted some of its special tools Axiosnamely age-restricted features, parental controls and an automatic 60-minute time limit for users under 18. However, none of the tech companies have accepted the problematic features listed by the Adams administration.

This trial happened recently Senate hearing about online child safety, attended by the CEOs of all the aforementioned tech companies (except Google). In his opening remarks, Sen. Lindsey Graham told tech executives “you’ve got blood on your hands” — a reference to online child exploitation and, sadly, cyberbullying.

Through the case, the Adams administration wants these tech companies to pay for the city’s youth mental health services, which cost more than $100 million annually. But ultimately, it’s about forcing these tech giants to stop turning young users into addictive behavior, as well as forcing politicians to pass new federal laws that protect young people’s mental health on social platforms.

Before this New York City trial, Meta already had a similar case In October 2023, 41 states were accused of misleading the public about the safety of the platform’s “addictive” features. Meta, Snap, TikTok and Google were also sued multidistrict litigation 2022 for its allegedly addictive properties that cause “emotional and physical harm, including death” to teenagers.

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