Written By: Robert King, Esq.
Legal Review By: Sandy Fazili, Esq.
The Facebook Mental Health Lawsuit is an active lawsuit
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Facebook Mental Health Lawsuit Overview

Research shows that social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, both owned by parent company Meta, are linked to multiple mental health issues, particularly among teenagers and young adults. Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against Meta, alleging the company knowingly engineered addictive content and knew of the risk of harmful effects. 

Legal documents show that plaintiffs across the country have experienced numerous adverse mental health effects, including depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and ideation, body dysmorphia, and eating disorders as a result of prolonged social media use. Internal documents leaked by former Meta data engineer and whistleblower Frances Haugen spotlight that the company created intentionally addictive design features, knew of the risks, and failed to warn consumers. 

Meta, owned by Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, has been accused of misleading the public about the dangers of its platforms. Zuckerberg himself has been criticized for hindering efforts to improve teen well-being on social media platforms. Internal communications suggest he even overruled senior executives who argued for better protections. 

Individuals who have suffered mental health issues as a result of using Facebook are strongly encouraged to contact King Law to determine their eligibility in filing a Facebook mental health lawsuit. King Law is well-versed in handling social media-related mental health litigation and is currently investigating cases nationwide.

Facebook Mental Health Lawsuit Updates – June 2024

May 27, 2024: Dispute Over Document Access in Facebook Mental Health Lawsuit

There is an important legal dispute in the Facebook Mental Health Lawsuit. Court filings dated May 23, 2024, highlight the fight between the parties. Plaintiff lawyers want access to documents, including design history filed for updates to the Facebook algorithm dating back to 2004. Defense lawyers are requesting a more limited time period of document production, from 2015 to present. The lawyers have met and cannot agree, and they have certified that they need a ruling on the legal issue from the judge. Since many of the features that are at the heart of the case against Facebook, it is believed that the judge will allow discovery of documents prior to 2015.

May 24, 2024: Progress in Facebook Addiction Lawsuit with Case Management and Bellwether Selection

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers held a case management conference in the Facebook addiction lawsuit on May 17, 2024, and held an informal follow-up meeting on May 21, 2024. The Judge then issued Case Management Order No. 14. The order notes the motion to dismiss the complaint brought by school districts and municipalities, arguing that they have suffered increased financial costs because of kids’ social media addiction. The judge indicated that the decision on the motion to dismiss the Facebook lawsuit would be coming in a separate order. The majority of the order centers on bellwether plaintiff selection. Bellwether plaintiffs are test plaintiffs; they are supposed to represent the group of plaintiffs and help the lawyers learn about the issues in the case so that the parties can move towards a settlement for all cases. The plaintiffs’ lawyers dismissed two cases voluntarily that had been picked by the defense to be included in the pool and asserted Lexecon objections in two other cases, preventing their selection. They have therefore removed four cases they did not want to be tried from the pool. The defense will pick four cases to add to the pool. Discovery will then proceed on the potential bellwether cases.

May 2024: Dozens of new cases are added to the MDL, bringing the number of pending lawsuits to 455. The first bellwether trial is expected to be heard in October 2025.

February 2024: Several cases are added to the Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) on social media addiction in the Northern District of California, bringing the total to nearly 400 lawsuits.

January 2024: Mark Zuckerberg addresses the Senate in a Judiciary Committee hearing on child safety. Zuckerberg was scrutinized for his company’s failure to act on accusations of child exploitation and abuse.

October 2023: 33 states file a lawsuit in a federal court in California alleging Meta violated federal law by collecting data on children under the age of 13 without their parents’ consent. The total number of lawsuits filed by states is now 41, including the nine attorneys general that have taken legal action in their respective states. 

May 2023: The Clarksville-Montgomery County School system joins the growing list of school districts to file a lawsuit against social media companies for their role in the mental health crisis among students. 

January 2023: Seattle Public Schools becomes the first school district to file a lawsuit against social media giants, including Meta. The lawsuit alleges that the platforms were a “major force driving the deterioration in students’ social, emotional, and mental health.”

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What Is the Facebook Mental Health Lawsuit About?

The Facebook mental health lawsuit stems from allegations that the algorithms used by the social media platform foster environments that are detrimental to a user’s mental health by promoting harmful content in an effort to increase engagement. 

Individual users and organizations have filed lawsuits across the country alleging that Facebook’s parent company, Meta, not only knew of the potential harm associated with using its product and failed to warn consumers but also continued to use platforms designed to addict young users.

Furthermore, the lawsuits accuse Meta and other social media platforms of purposefully engineering addictive features that promote addiction to their product but also increase the risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. 

Allegations also include that Meta misled the public about the dangers of its platforms and used specific features such as endless scrolling, likes, and engagement-driving algorithms to exploit the vulnerabilities in adolescents.

How Does Facebook Affect Mental Health?

Studies show that social media platforms, including Facebook, impact mental health through their design features, which foster addiction. The platform uses personalized timelines, endless feeds, mobile notifications, and other traits that draw users back, putting them in a vicious cycle. 

Many of the features activate the brain’s reward system, releasing dopamine, similar to addictive drugs or games. Teens are particularly susceptible to these features and their addictive qualities.

Furthermore, social media has been linked to a decline in mental health, including an increased risk of depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts. It is believed that the platform’s interaction with dopamine pathways in the brain may influence the emotions and behaviors of a user by mimicking the effects of addictive drugs.

Mental Health and Facebook for Teens and Young Adults

Multiple studies indicate that teens throughout the U.S. are in a mental health crisis. Over the past decade, there has been a steady increase in the number of teens suffering from mental health disorders. A study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found a 57.4% increase in the suicide rate for people between the ages of 10 and 24 from 2007 to 2018. Prior to 2007, the suicide rate for this age group had remained stable for at least seven years.

Researchers believe that this extraordinary increase in mental health disorders may be linked to adolescent use of social media. A study published by the Pew Research Center found that 95% of teens surveyed used at least one social media platform. Nearly 20% of the respondents report using the platforms “almost constantly,” and 54% say it would be hard to give up social media use.

The excessive amount of social media use by teens has been linked to an increase in depression and anxiety among teenagers between the ages of 12 and 15 in the U.S. One study suggests that usage of the platforms for over three hours each day doubles the risk of negative mental health outcomes. Additional studies have noted the increased risk of harm in adolescent girls with preexisting mental health issues. 

The studies led the American Psychological Association (APA) to issue a health advisory on social media use in adolescence and the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to issue an advisory on the matter in 2023.

Studies Link Facebook to Depression, Eating Disorders, and Suicidal Thoughts

Thorough research on the subject indicates that because the adolescent brain undergoes significant development between the ages of 10 and 19, it may be uniquely vulnerable to the effects of social media. Adverse effects of the platforms may include influencing emotional regulation, impulse control, and behavior.

Social media often exacerbates feelings of insecurity, isolation, depression, anxiety, and self-absorption that may already exist in adolescence. It is also believed that algorithms designed by social media platforms may expose teens to harmful content, such as cyberbullying, eating disorders, and self-harm, normalizing these dangerous behaviors. 

Several studies highlight the link between social media use and a decline in mental health, including a study done by MIT assistant professor Alexey Marakin and colleagues and a study published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, which found that a parallel between the increase in suicide rate and the simultaneous increase in social media use. Finally, a 2021 study published in BMC Psychiatry found a connection between social media use and an increase in eating disorders during the pandemic.

Causes of Facebook’s Mental Health Issues: Algorithm, Design, and Features

Lawsuits against Meta allege that the algorithm, design, and features of Facebook and other social media platforms are to blame for the increase in mental health disorders among teens and adolescents. Meta CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg has been accused of repeatedly misleading the public about the dangers associated with the use of the platform and the algorithms it uses to enhance personalization and increase engagement among users. 

Information obtained through leaked documents and whistleblower testimony indicates that Facebook and Instagram were aware that they were causing mental health concerns among teens, particularly young females, and opted not to address the issue. 

It is now known that Facebook uses machine learning to allow its algorithms to evolve based on a user’s interaction. These adaptive algorithms enhance a user’s experience by providing them with more personalized content, but they can also lead to addiction and perpetuate mental health conditions caused by the site. 

Additionally, Meta enhances user engagement by mimicking variable reward schedules, similar to highly addictive slot machines. Alerts and notifications that are set “on” by default encourage compulsive checking, and features like infinite scroll and autoplay perpetuate continuous interaction with the platform.

Effects of Facebook on Mental Health for Teens and Adolescence

Facebook has come under scrutiny for the deep impact that it may have on the mental health of adolescents. It is believed that heavy or compulsive social media use may increase a person’s feelings of depression, suicide, anxiety, eating disorders, and other mental health disorders. Social media use is believed to have contributed to what is now considered a widespread mental health crisis among teens and young adults. 

This infographic lists the Effects of Facebook on the mental health of adolescents. It also notes a whistleblower statement, and a statistic from the Pew Research Center. An image of a young depressed black girl is on this infographic.

Social media may put individuals at an increased risk for:

  • Addiction
  • Anxiety
  • Body dysmorphia and body image issues
  • Depression 
  • Dissociative behavior
  • Dangerous behaviors
  • Eating disorders
  • Exposure to predators
  • Insomnia
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Self-harm
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Social isolation
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Withdrawal symptoms

Meta, Facebook’s parent company, is now the subject of hundreds of lawsuits, including dozens filed by states across the country, alleging that it not only knew of the risk to consumers but failed to adequately address the concerns, putting children at harm for devastating mental health consequences. Individuals, particularly teens and young adults, who have experienced mental health issues from using Facebook or Instagram may be eligible to file lawsuits.

“Facebook Depression” 

Multiple studies have linked social media to a decline in mental health. As a result of these studies, pediatricians and other health professionals are now warning parents of the realities of “Facebook depression.” 

The American Academy of Pediatrics defines “Facebook depression” as depression that occurs after prolonged use of social media platforms, such as Facebook, leads to classic symptoms of depression. Researchers agree that heavy social media use can significantly contribute to depressive symptoms due to exposure to other people’s carefully curated lives. This exposure can promote comparison and make a user feel inadequate, particularly affecting individuals with pre-existing low self-esteem.

Algorithms used by social media companies indicate that individuals with depression who express their feelings and symptoms on the platform may be shown content that reinforces these depressive feelings. 

Anxiety Disorders

The extended daily use of social media platforms like Facebook may increase a person’s risk of experiencing anxiety disorders, including social media anxiety disorder and General Anxiety Disorder. A reliance on or addiction to social media can also cause a person to feel as though they are missing out, increasing feelings of anxiety and depression. It can cause excessive worrying and lead to feelings of isolation.

As reported in the 2023 U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory, studies show that teens between the ages of 12 and 15 who engage in social media for over three hours each day are 2x as likely to experience negative mental health outcomes, including anxiety. 

Body Image and Body Dysmorphia Issues

Body image issues and Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) are complicated conditions that may be exacerbated by social media. It is believed that social media exposure can lead to unrealistic body image ideals, increasing the likelihood that a user may suffer one of these disorders. 

Body dysmorphic disorder occurs when a person cannot stop thinking or fixating on one or more perceived defects in their appearance. It is more common in caucasian women and has been increasing over the past seven years and has significantly spiked since the Covid-19 pandemic. This increase is believed to correlate to the rise in the use of social media. 

The condition can lead to dissatisfaction with one’s appearance, depression, and eating disorders if left untreated. Individuals who suffer from BDD and use social media may be encouraged to seek cosmetic surgery to fix perceived flaws as their preoccupation with appearance grows.

Eating Disorders and Social Media 

Eating disorders are devastating conditions that can impact a person both physically and mentally. Research from 50 studies across 17 different countries presents evidence that social media may play a direct role in the development of an eating disorder, particularly in teen and preteen females. 

Common eating disorders include:

  • Anorexia nervosa: Often referred to as anorexia, the condition is characterized by extremely low body weight, usually as a result of an intense fear of gaining weight. 
  • Bulimia nervosa: Bulimia is a common and potentially life-threatening eating disorder that involves cycles of binge eating followed by purging through vomiting or unsafe use of laxatives. 
  • Binge-eating disorder: Binge-eating disorder is characterized by repeatedly eating large quantities of food with the inability to control yourself.

Studies indicate that social media may perpetuate feelings of insecurity and body dysmorphia that young adults tend to have already. Algorithms in use by the platforms promote extended use, resulting in prolonged exposure to photos that may be edited or show unrealistic body images. 

Suicidal Thoughts and Ideations

Social media has regularly been associated or linked with self-injurious thoughts and behaviors (SITBs) such as suicidal ideation, suicide plans, suicide attempts, and nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI). 

An increasing number of reports, however, indicate a link between problematic social media use among adolescents and an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and ideations. Research indicates that adolescents who suffer from depression or suicidal tendencies often report increased use of social media, which may exacerbate these issues and increase the risk of suicide. 

Algorithms within these platforms may actually cause individuals to encounter more suicide-related content capitalizing on these thoughts and potentially dangerous behaviors.

Leaked Facebook Files and Meta’s Complicity in the Teen Mental Health Crisis

In October 2021, former Facebook employee Frances Haugen revealed herself as the whistleblower who had shared thousands of internal documents with the press and regulators. The documents and Haugen’s testimony revealed the company’s awareness of the harmful effects of its social media platforms on teen mental health and its unwillingness to change the algorithm, putting profits ahead of the safety of today’s youth. In fact, despite internal knowledge of the effect the platforms, particularly Instagram, were having on teens and young adults, the company and owner, Mark Zuckerberg, often downplayed the effects in public forums and congressional hearings.

These leaked documents and an investigation by the Wall Street Journal, collectively referred to as The Facebook Files, show that Facebook had been actively researching and targeting preteens in an effort to build and maintain its user base. They also indicate that the platforms had become breeding grounds for cyberbullying. 

Despite knowing the risk of harm to users, Facebook continued using algorithms designed to maximize user engagement by promoting content that could lead to distress, anger, depression, and other dangerous behavior. This is believed to have contributed to a wider mental health crisis among users, specifically teens, preteens, and young adults. Lawsuits have now been filed across the country regarding Facebook’s prioritization of profit over the safety of its users.

Recoverable Damages in the Facebook Mental Health Lawsuit

Individuals who qualify for Facebook mental health lawsuits may be entitled to damages to cover economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses may include things like medical and therapy costs, while non-economic losses may include your pain and suffering and emotional damage. 

Recoverable damages in a Facebook mental health lawsuit may include coverage for:

  • Medical costs and bills. Any treatment related to mental health issues that were caused by the use of Facebook or Instagram may be recoverable.
  • Therapy expenses. Costs related to therapy or counseling may be included in your damages.
  • Pain and suffering. Depending on the situation, you may be eligible for compensation for your physical pain and emotional suffering that resulted from the use of social media.
  • Emotional damage. Many Facebook mental health lawsuits have the potential for damages related to the emotional and psychological harm caused by the platforms.

The unique nature of these claims also has the potential for a broader range of damages. As legal actions against Instagram and Facebook continue and scrutiny intensifies against these companies, individuals may be eligible for compensation related to the long-term psychological impact and disruption of lifestyle caused by these platforms.

Who Qualifies to File a Facebook Mental Health Lawsuit?

In order to file a Facebook mental health lawsuit, you must meet specific criteria. These criteria include age, proof of extensive use, diagnosis of a specific mental health issue, proof of treatment, and more. 

Eligibility requirements in a Facebook mental health lawsuit:

  • Age: The individual must currently be under the age of 24, but the harm must have first occurred when the individual was 21 but was unrealized until now.. 
  • Proof of use: The individual must be able to prove that they were a heavy or compulsive user of Facebook or Instagram.
  • Diagnosable injury: Claims related to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, body dysmorphia, ADHD, self-harm, suicidal ideation, and other harm may meet the criteria. 
  • Link between the two: You must be able to show that there is a direct link between your compulsive use of social media and your diagnosis.
  • Proof of treatment: You must be able to show that you received treatment for the condition.

You may be excluded from eligibility if you have over three complicating factors, including a history of abuse, serious drug abuse in the family, or ongoing bullying (on and offline). Individuals who have been adversely affected by social media are encouraged to seek a free, no-obligation consultation.

This infographic lists the eligibility criteria for a facebook mental health lawsuit, and notes the possible recoverable damages. An image of four diverse teens on their cell phones is on the infographic.

Evidence Needed to File the Lawsuit

Facebook mental health lawsuits are often based on evidence. Evidence frequently proves critical in helping to support or substantiate your claim.

Evidence that may be needed to file a Facebook mental health lawsuit:

  • Documentation of extensive social media use (phone records, screenshots, account logs)
  • Medical records indicating psychological or physical harm caused by social media use
  • Proof of treatment for a condition related to extensive social media use

An experienced Facebook mental health lawyer can help you understand your rights and will work with you to determine what evidence you may need to prove your claim.

How to File a Facebook Lawsuit for Mental Health

Filing a Facebook lawsuit for mental health requires an in-depth understanding of the legal process. The best way to ensure that your case is filed correctly in the appropriate jurisdiction is with the assistance of legal counsel.

To file a Facebook mental health lawsuit, you will need to:

  1. Verify your eligibility. First, you must determine whether you meet the criteria necessary to file a lawsuit based on addiction to social media. Eligibility factors may include your age, ability to prove usage, and whether you have a diagnosable mental health condition.
  2. Collect evidence. Once you have verified whether you are eligible to file a claim, you will need to gather all relevant evidence. Evidence that may help to support your claim includes documentation of social media usage, medical records detailing your diagnosis, and history of treatment. 
  3. File your claim. The next step in a Facebook mental health lawsuit involves the actual filing of the claim. It is essential to work with an attorney from as early in the process as possible to ensure that your case is filed within the state-specific statute of limitations and the appropriate jurisdiction. 
  4. Enter into negotiations: Once your case is filed, your attorney will enter into negotiations with legal representatives from the defense. During negotiations, both parties may attempt to reach a settlement agreement before going to trial.
  5. Prepare for trial: If a fair and full settlement cannot be reached, the matter will be set for trial. 

Depending on the circumstances of the case, it could take several months to a year to resolve. It is important to work closely with your attorney so that you have realistic expectations about the case and how long it may take to conclude.

Statute of Limitations for Filing a Facebook Lawsuit

Every Facebook mental health case is subject to a statute of limitations or legal timeline for filing a lawsuit. Failure to file a lawsuit within the state-specific deadline can result in your claim for damages being denied. Statutes of limitations on social media addiction lawsuits vary greatly from state to state and when the time begins to toll may also differ depending on the jurisdiction. 

Due to the variances between states, it is imperative that you speak with an experienced attorney who knows local state laws and can ensure that your matter is filed promptly to maintain eligibility for damages.

Facebook Mental Health Settlement and Payout Amounts

Settlement and payout amounts in Facebook mental health lawsuits are uncertain due to the early stage of litigation in most cases. The estimated settlement amounts for cases based on social media addiction and adverse mental health outcomes could range between $10,000 and $100,000, depending on the circumstances of the case. 

Major injuries in social media lawsuits may include:

  • Addiction and compulsive use
  • Eating disorders (bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating)
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Self-harm and suicidal ideation
  • Death by suicide
  • Child sex abuse
  • CSAM violations

Cases involving teen suicide have the highest potential value, ranging from $1.5 to $5 million.  Lawsuits involving major, although less severe, injuries, such as self-mutilation or eating disorders, are expected to have lower settlement values. 

Currently, there have been no settlements reached due to the early stages of litigation. Projections for settlements and payouts are based on the mental health impacts, potential for serious outcomes like suicide, and comparisons with other mass tort settlements.

Contact a Facebook Mental Health Lawyer

Individuals who have suffered a mental health disorder as a result of using Facebook are strongly encouraged to contact King Law. The attorneys at King Law are well-versed in handling social media addiction lawsuits nationwide. Our legal team can help develop a comprehensive strategy in your case to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Read frequently asked questions below and get the answers you need regarding the Facebook lawsuit.

What is the Facebook mental health lawsuit?
The Facebook mental health lawsuit is based on allegations that the company knew of the risk of harm associated with the use of its product, particularly by adolescents, and failed to warn consumers adequately. Additionally, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is accused of purposefully designing algorithms that promote addiction, depression, eating disorders, and other mental health disorders.
Is there a lawsuit against Facebook for mental health?
There are multiple lawsuits that have been filed against Facebook for mental health. Dozens of states, school districts, and other entities have taken legal action against the company for its role in the mental health crisis among adolescents. Hundreds of individuals have also filed lawsuits against the company for mental health disorders suffered as a result of the use of the platform.
What is the Meta vs. Facebook lawsuit?
The Meta vs. Facebook lawsuit alleges that Facebook’s parent company, Meta knew about the risk of harm associated with the use of its product and failed to warn consumers. Additionally, allegations include that Meta put in place algorithms designed to be addictive, particularly for teens and young adults.
How can I join the Facebook mental health lawsuit?
The best way to determine whether you meet the eligibility requirements to join the Facebook mental health lawsuit is by consulting with a qualified attorney
Who qualifies for a Facebook mental health lawsuit?
Individuals who are currently under the age of 24 and were heavy or compulsive users of Facebook may qualify for a lawsuit if they suffered a diagnosable mental health disorder as a result of their social media use.
What are the recoverable damages in a Facebook mental health lawsuit?
Recoverable damages in a Facebook mental health lawsuit include compensation for your medical bills, therapy, pain and suffering, and emotional damages.
Who is eligible to file a Facebook mental health lawsuit?
Eligibility in a Facebook mental health lawsuit depends on several factors, including your age, the length of time you spend on social media, and whether you have a diagnosable mental health disorder.
How has Facebook’s algorithm contributed to mental health issues?
Whistleblower testimony indicates that Facebook’s algorithm funneled harmful content to users, specifically teens, by rewarding posts with the most likes and followers. The algorithm would promote any content that received strong reactions, even if it was anger or fear. This perpetuated problems instead of quelling them.
What mental health effects have been cited in the lawsuits against Facebook?
It is alleged that Facebook use can cause depression, anxiety, eating disorders, feelings of isolation, suicidal ideation, and other mental health disorders.
How can I prove my mental health issues are related to Facebook use?
In order to prove your mental health issues are related to Facebook use, you will need to provide evidence of your use of the platform and a diagnosis of the condition.
What is the statute of limitations for filing a Facebook mental health lawsuit?
The statute of limitations for filing a Facebook mental health lawsuit is state-specific. It is important to discuss your case with an attorney to determine how long you have to file a claim.
What steps should I take to file a Facebook mental health lawsuit?
The first step you should take to file a Facebook mental health lawsuit is to consult with an attorney. An attorney can help determine whether you meet the eligibility requirements to take legal action.
How does social media use exacerbate conditions like anxiety and depression in adolescents?
Social media uses algorithms that activate the brain’s reward system, encouraging you to return to the platform over and over again. Users become addicted to the platform and are then shown personalized content, which may exacerbate any negative feelings that you may have expressed.
What are the broader implications of the Facebook mental health lawsuits for social media regulation?
The widespread mental health crisis among teens and young adults has led regulators to look deeper into how social media affects children and whether companies are doing enough to keep users safe. Regulators may take significant steps to prevent social media companies from using algorithms and features that are addictive in nature. Furthermore, they may ban certain platforms in the future.