New York City takes TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube to Court Over Kids’ Mental Health Concerns

On Wednesday, Mayor Eric Adams of New York City announced that his administration has taken legal action against the parent companies of popular social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and YouTube.

The lawsuit claims that these services are causing harm to the mental health of young adults and children in the city.

The city of New York, along with other plaintiffs such as the school district and health organizations, filed the lawsuit in the Los Angeles County branch of the California Superior Court due to the companies’ connections to the area.

The lawsuit accuses Meta, Snap, ByteDance, and Google (whose parent company is Alphabet) of intentionally designing and promoting their platforms to attract and addict youth, with little parental supervision.

The plaintiffs argue that these tech companies have violated several city laws related to public nuisance and negligence through the design and marketing of their addictive products.

Lawsuit targets Meta, Snap, TikTok
Lawsuit targets Meta, Snap, TikTok, and Google over addiction claims.

They also claim that the use of popular social media apps has harmed the school districts and various health and social services in New York, leading to severe mental health consequences for children.

In a statement, Mayor Adams stated that over the past decade, the online world has proven to be addictive and overwhelming, exposing children to harmful content and contributing to the national youth mental health crisis.

With this lawsuit and action plan, he hopes to hold these companies accountable for their role in this crisis and address the issue as a public health hazard. This is part of a larger effort to address the impact of social media on young people, the city, and society as a whole.

A spokesperson for TikTok responded to the allegations, stating that the company has industry-leading safeguards for teens, including parental controls and age restrictions.

They also mentioned their collaboration with experts to understand best practices and their commitment to keeping the community safe.

Similarly, a Google representative denied the claims, stating that providing a safer and healthier online experience for young people has always been a priority for the company.

They have worked with experts in youth, mental health, and parenting to create age-appropriate services and policies, as well as provide parents with robust controls.

Companies defend practices amid accusations
Companies defend practices amid accusations of promoting addiction.

Meta, previously known as Facebook, stated that they have been working on these issues for a decade and are committed to providing teens with safe and age-appropriate online experiences.

They have over 30 tools and features to support both teens and their parents. A spokesperson for Snapchat also responded, highlighting that their platform is designed to be different from traditional social media, with a focus on facilitating conversations between close friends.

They noted that their platform does not have a traditional feed of content does not encourage passive scrolling, and has no public likes or comments.

While they acknowledge that there is still work to be done, they believe that Snapchat plays a positive role in helping close friends feel connected and prepared to face the challenges of adolescence.

This lawsuit filed by New York City mirrors similar allegations made against Meta, Snap, TikTok, and Alphabet in a 2022 litigation in the Northern District of California.

Senate Judiciary grills Meta, TikTok, and Snap CEOs
Senate Judiciary grills Meta, TikTok, and Snap CEOs over child safety. Over 40 AGs sued Meta, alleging addictive, harmful products.

Multiple school districts and individuals have accused these companies of intentionally designing products to maximize screen time, resulting in emotional and physical harm, including death.

Social media companies have faced scrutiny from lawmakers, leading to the introduction of bills like the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) and calls for regulation.

In a Senate Judiciary hearing in late January, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, and Snap CEO Evan Spiegel faced tough questions from a bipartisan group of lawmakers regarding their alleged negligence in protecting children.

Additionally, a coalition of over 40 attorneys general filed a joint federal lawsuit against Meta, claiming that their products are addictive and harmful to mental health.

Sajda Parveen
Sajda Parveen
Sajda Praveen is a market expert. She has over 6 years of experience in the field and she shares her expertise with readers. You can reach out to her at [email protected]
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