An American mother has complained that companies are to blame for the suicide of her 11-year-old daughter, who was “extremely dependent” on social media.
Meta Platforms Inc. and Snap Inc. are guilty of the suicide of an 11-year-old boy who was addicted to Instagram and Snapchat, according to the girl’s mother in a lawsuit.
The woman says her daughter Selena Rodriguez struggled for two years with Meta’s photo-sharing platform and Snap’s messaging app “with extreme addiction” before taking her life last year.
The San Francisco federal court’s complaint is not the first case to accuse a young man of suicide on social media, but it is a sensitive moment for platforms involving millions of young people around the world.
In November, a group of U.S. Attorney Generals announced an Instagram investigation into efforts to draw children and young people into the dangers that social media can pose to their mental health and well-being. A state investigation was launched into the company after a former Facebook employee testified that he became a whistleblower after he testified in Congress, but did not disclose the harmful effects of services like Instagram.
The backlash against social media is not limited to the US The father of a 14-year-old man in the UK sparked a storm when he blamed himself for committing suicide in 2017 to some extent on Instagram. The company has told the BBC it does not support content that promotes self-harm.
“We are shocked to learn of Selena’s death and our hearts are on her family,” a Snap spokeswoman said in an email on Friday. “While we cannot comment on the details of the active lawsuit, nothing is more important to us than the well-being of our community.”
Meta and Snap knew or should have known that “their social media products were harmful to a significant percentage of small users,” according to Thursday’s lawsuit. “In other words, the defendants deliberately harassed young children, but did not provide adequate protection from the harmful effects they knew were occurring on their property and in controlled digital premises.”
Meta representatives did not respond to an email for comments.
A meta-spokesman said in November that the company’s allegations that it was making a profit over security were false and that “we continue to build new functions to help people with negative social comparisons or body image.”
Snap said in May that it was suspending projects with two app makers “due to high security precautions for the safety of the Snapchat community” as it complained about the death of the wrongdoing filed in California and the lack of enforcement by companies. own policies against cyberbullying.
Connecticut-based Tammy Rodriguez said when she tried to restrict her daughter’s access to the platforms, the girl fled the house. She took her daughter to a therapist, who said she had “never seen a social media addict like Selena,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit puts its harshest criticism on Snapchat, saying the platform rewards users in “too many and dangerous ways.” The mother complains about product defects, negligence, and violations of California consumer protection law. One of the lawyers for the lawsuit is the Social Media Victims Law Center, a Seattle-based legal defense group.
“Snapchat helps people communicate with their true friends without the public pressure of social media platforms and some social comparison features, and it deliberately makes it difficult for strangers to connect with young people,” a Snape spokesperson said. “We work closely with many mental health organizations to provide Snapchatter with in-app tools and resources to keep our community safe.”
Social media companies have been very successful in dispelling personal injury lawsuits, thanks to a 1996 federal law that protects Internet platforms from the responsibility of what users post online.
Case of Rodriguez v. Meta Platforms Inc. f / k / a Facebook Inc. 3: 22-cv-00401, U.S. District Court, Northern California District (San Francisco).
(Updates with Snap comment.)
– With the help of Naomi Nix.