To anyone who has been paying attention since Instagram came on the scene, it’s pretty obvious. Young girls compare and comment on each other’s selfies, using filters to be prettier and getting ads directed toward them, related to how they can become thinner. Anyone who has a daughter who has been on Instagram has likely seen anxiety based on the number of “likes” they get. It’s insidious.
Instagram, which is owned by Meta has just been sued again, by two families who say actions by the company cause “eating disorders and mental health problems ranging from anxiety and depression to addiction and suicide attempts in teenage girls,” reports ABC News.
The petitioners in the lawsuits want Meta, to be held responsible for “causing and contributing to burgeoning mental health crisis perpetrated upon the children and teenagers of the United States.”
One mother alleges that when her daughter was 12 she became addicted to Instagram and developed mental health issues that led to attempted suicide. “CN’s use of Instagram developed into a dependency on the Instagram product and coincided with a steady, but severe, decline in her mental health,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit accuses Meta of strict liability, negligence, fraud and fraudulent concealment and unjust enrichment, reports ABC News. “Meta knows that its product is contributing to teen depression, anxiety, even suicide and self-harm. Why doesn’t it change these harmful product features and stop utilizing algorithms in connection, at least, with teen accounts? Because Meta’s priority is growth and competition concerns, and it sees ‘acquiring and retaining’ teens as essential to its survival,” the lawsuit says.
One person tweeted about the lawsuits, saying “The best thing would be social media starting from 18 years old. I don’t think is good for kids and teens. But only for the record, anorexia existed before Instagram was invented.”
One mother and daughter say they started using Instagram to search for recipes. But soon, Instagram subtly began to push the daughter toward “dangerous recipes—for example, recipes designed to achieve negative caloric intake.”
Another family says their daughter became addicted to Instagram at a young age. She eventually had to be hospitalized for an eating disorder.
“Alex’s social media use coincided with a steady, but severe, decline in her mental health,” the lawsuit says. “She was addicted to Instagram and could not stop using Instagram, even when the social media product was directing increasing amounts of harmful content and amplifying that harmful content via Alex’s Instagram accounts and product features.”
One person on Twitter wants to know “Now why Instagram would promote me that??”
“Specifically,” the lawsuit continues, “Alex was repeatedly bombarded with and exposed to content recommended and/or made available to her by Meta, which increasingly included underweight models, unhealthy eating, and eating disorder content.”
These lawsuits follow the filing of another lawsuit about a month ago, which makes similar allegations against Meta/Instagram.
The lawsuits seek unspecified damages.
Watch this to learn more about social media and eating disorders:
A spokesperson for Meta decline to comment due to active litigation but “highlighted general protections for kids they say are offered by Instagram, including support for people struggling with body image issues, age verification, parental controls, decreasing visibility of content that is potentially sensitive, time control settings, default settings to provide more privacy, as well as in-app resources offering mental health support,” reports ABC News.
Meta might have some protections now, but it has been a wild-wild west of content directed toward young people that has caused major anxiety and other mental health issues. Ask anyone who has a child who is in their twenties now, who used Instagram when it first came out. They will likely tell you it caused harm to their child. Do you think Meta/Instagram should be held responsible? Are the parents also responsible, for not taking Instagram away when they realized there was a problem? Is that even possible these days? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.