Mark Zuckerberg's Meta faces lawsuit over alleged disregard for user mental health on Instagram
According to an internal email cited in the complaint, Instagram's then-head of policy appealed to Mark Zuckerberg to disable the filters, expressing worry about actively encouraging body dysmorphia in young girls
Mark Zuckerberg is facing a lawsuit filed by the US state of Massachusetts, over allegations that his company Meta "dismissed concerns" around Instagram's negative effects on users' mental health, sources reported.
The lawsuit was filed in the Suffolk Superior Court on November 5. It found that Meta's leadership had in 2019 suggested that filters for plastic surgery be disabled on Facebook and Instagram due to the negative impact on young users - especially women, it added.
According to an internal email cited in the complaint, Instagram's then-head of policy appealed to Mark Zuckerberg to disable the filters, expressing worry about actively encouraging body dysmorphia in young girls.
However, the lawsuit alleges that Zuckerberg chose to permit "plastic surgery simulation camera filters" on the platforms, claiming there was a 'clear demand' and falsely asserting he had seen 'no data' suggesting harm.
The nearly 100-page lawsuit asserts that Meta dismissed its own internal research highlighting the harmful and addictive nature of its platforms. The Wall Street Journal first reported on the lawsuit, stating that Meta consistently chose not to invest in improving the well-being of young users from 2018 to 2022.
In response, a Meta spokesperson stated that the company provides over 30 tools and resources to ensure the safety of teens on its platforms. The spokesperson argued that the lawsuit selectively quotes documents, lacking the full context of the company's operations and decision-making.
If successful, the lawsuit could lead to civil penalties for Meta of up to $5,000 per violation, with the possibility of restitution to users. The outcome could also usher in new regulations and procedures surrounding social media use, potentially influencing age restrictions and usage policies.
Channa Lloyd, managing partner of The Cochran Firm, not involved in the lawsuit, told ABC that a guilty verdict could lead to new laws and regulations governing social media use, defining who can use it, when, and at what age.
Massachusetts joins numerous other states in suing Meta, alleging harm to young people's mental health. The lawsuit claims that Meta, through its platforms, targeted and exploited young users, manipulating their developing brains to ensure frequent and extended platform use.
So far, at least 42 US states, including California, Colorado, New York, and Washington DC have filed similar lawsuits against the Silicon Valley giant. To this Meta had in an earlier statement expressed "disappointment", sources reported.
The recent lawsuit aligns with previous warnings from U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who highlighted the profound mental health risks associated with excessive social media use among youth. The filing claims that 350,000 teenagers in Massachusetts aged 13-17 use Instagram daily.