A federal judge in the US state of California hinted that the technology corporation “Meta”, which owns the social networks “Facebook” and “Instagram”, as well as the companies that own the social networks “Snapchat” ( Snapchat) and “TikTok” (TikTok) are very likely to face lawsuits based on claims from citizens who accuse them that their online platforms pose a threat to the mental health of young people in the United States.
Lawsuits against US tech companies?
A series of lawsuits filed by consumers in the US alleges that tech companies are creating mental addiction in young people through online applications built into their social platforms.
Section 230 of the US Communications Ethics Act, which prevents prosecution of content posted by third parties, may not be enough to ward off those claims, according to the California judge.
The high-ranking magistrate exercises methodical oversight over the trials, which are based on nearly 200 individual cases against technology corporations. Plaintiffs allege that they are doing enormous harm to the psyche of American children by using social media algorithms to “lure” young people to their online platforms.
Through photo manipulation on social media and a huge number of posts and videos that enforce certain role models, these corporations encourage young people to try to drastically change their appearance. It has caused psychologically-based eating disorders in some youths, claimants in some of the lawsuits.
If the courts uphold the complaints, or at least some of them, it could deal a significant blow to tech companies that are currently trying to fend off legal attacks, according to CNN.
The judge’s position
California federal judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said she was not convinced by either side’s arguments in the lawsuit. Lawyers for the tech companies are pushing for all lawsuits to be dismissed. For their part, the plaintiffs’ position is that all complaints should be heard by the court.
Judge Rogers said she was also skeptical of claims by the companies’ lawyers, who say tech companies are not required by law to ensure their online platforms are safe for children.
She also criticizes the plaintiffs in the lawsuit for making “a series of disorganized accusations.”
The federal judge said it was up to the tech companies’ lawyers to convince her with legal arguments that she should “dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims at this early stage of the litigation.”
“Meta” defends the rights of teenagers
In late October, a number of US states announced they had filed nearly identical lawsuits against Meta (Facebook, Instagram), alleging that the tech corporation knew its social platforms were harmful to children. . 8 other states in the US have filed similar claims in state local courts.
Meta’s position is that it is “committed” to providing a safe environment for users using its online services.
At the beginning of the year, the corporation announced that its platforms “Facebook” and “Instagram” will limit the access of advertising companies to the personal data of teenagers who use the two social networks.
Under the tightened rules, companies can “target” ads to a user based only on their age and location, without having access to other data about them, Meta said.
Many online safety campaigners say the companies that run social media should do more to control the ads shown to younger users. They warn that inappropriate ads can cause no less harm to younger people than offensive or offensive content posted by other users of social networks, DPA notes.
The Meta Corporation recently introduced restrictions that prevent companies from targeting ads to teenagers based on the interest they have shown in certain topics and posts, as well as based on the reactions they have provoked in them.