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Written By: Robert King, Esq.
Legal Review By: Sandy Fazili, Esq.
The Instagram Lawsuit is an active lawsuit
See If You Qualify

Teens and young adults are filing Instagram lawsuits claiming the social media platform caused severe mental health problems. The lawsuits claim Meta, Instagram’s parent company, failed to warn users of risks such as anxiety, depression, body dysmorphia, eating disorders, and suicidal ideations. The Instagram lawsuit is ongoing, and new cases continue to be filed today.

Instagram Mental Health Lawsuit Overview

With over 2 billion active users, Instagram has become one of the most popular social media platforms in the world. Owned by Meta Platforms, Inc. (formerly Facebook Inc.), Instagram is frequently used by teens and young adults. In fact, Meta generated over $131 billion in ad revenues in 2023, with a large percentage of those ads targeting younger demographics.

The widespread use of the platform has coincided with an increase in low self-esteem, anxiety, eating disorders, and suicide rates among these age groups. Meta has been accused of prioritizing profit over the safety of its users, frequently exploiting young users’ psychological development and immaturity. In October 2021, whistle-blower Francis Haugen brought attention to the problem, eventually testifying to Congress about the company’s knowledge of the increased risk of harm to young users. 

Individuals who experienced adverse mental health effects after using Instagram may qualify to file an Instagram Mental Health Lawsuit. This litigation is focused on bringing to light the harm caused by the social media platform. At King Law, our attorneys are well-versed in handling claims related to social media-induced injuries. We can help determine whether you meet the criteria necessary to join a class-action lawsuit or multidistrict litigation (MDL) filed against Meta. Contact our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

Instagram Mental Health Lawsuit Updates – June 2024

July 14, 2024: Instagram Mental Health Lawsuit Continues with Extensive Discovery Process

The Instagram mental health lawsuit is still in the discovery phase of the litigation. Discovery involves the exchange of information, documents, emails, etc., between plaintiffs and defendants ahead of trials to ensure full transparency and prevent any disadvantages for either side. The defendant often fights to limit the amount of discovery they must produce. So far, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has submitted 270,591 documents consisting of over 1.5 million pages. The next Document Discovery Conference will take place on August 15, 2024, where the parties will meet with the judge to review the facts of the case, including witness testimony, documents involved, and possible settlement proposals.

June 25, 2024: New York Legislature Passes SAFE for Kids Act to Combat Addictive Instagram Feeds

The state of New York approved the SAFE for Kids Act, which addresses the concerns about the harm addictive social media feeds can have on young teens and adolescents. The bill will require social media companies to restrict addictive algorithms and design features for minors unless parental consent is given. Addictive feeds are defined as media designed to keep users engaged through data collection and machine learning based on the user’s activity on the platform. The law will require social media companies to verify a user’s age and secure parental consent when needed. The bill also restricts social media feeds from promoting content or sending notifications during nighttime hours. Governor Hochul signed the bill on Thursday, June 20, 2024.

June 2024: The social media addiction multidistrict litigation pending out of the Northern District of California (In re: Social Media Adolescent Addiction/Personal Injury Products Liability Litigation (MDL No. 3047) now has 475 pending cases.

May 2024: New York City and the New York City School District filed suit against Meta and other social media platforms, alleging the companies targeted school-aged children and created a youth mental health crisis. 

April 2024: Dozens of states have taken action against Meta and other social media platforms, alleging that the platforms are addictive and have caused harm to the mental health of youth across the United States. Potential negative outcomes of using Instagram and other platforms include an increased risk of developing anxiety, depression, body dysmorphia, and suicidal thoughts.

On this page:

What Is the Instagram Mental Health Lawsuit About?

Litigation against Instagram’s parent company, Meta, alleges that the company knowingly uses algorithms designed to addict young users. It also accuses the social media platform of promoting harmful content that increases the risk of developing mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Complaints further allege that the platform promotes content that induces negative social comparison and harms self-esteem and body image, especially in teens.

A 2023 Gallup poll found that teens spend an average of 4.8 hours per day using social media. Research shows that excessive social media use may be linked to an increased risk of mental health problems, including the potential for self-harm and suicidal ideation among teenagers. 

Internal research brought to light in 2021 shows that Meta knew of the potential harm to teens and young adults when using its products and did little to mitigate the risk. Instead, the company reportedly prioritized profits, which it gains from high user engagement, incentivizing prolonged user activity despite the risk of harm to users. 

Lawsuits against the platform suggest that the algorithms manipulate exposure, ultimately exacerbating mental health issues by promoting misleading and idealized content. Furthermore, victims believe that the content may encourage cyberbullying and unhealthy body images.

How Does Instagram Affect Mental Health?

Studies show that social media platforms, including Instagram, may directly impact a person’s mental health. According to the American Psychological Association, part of what makes Instagram harmful is that it is addictive. The platform fails to deliver “stopping cues” that would prompt users to move on to another activity. Instead, features like “endless scrolling” provide continuous content. 

Additionally, interactions inherent to Instagram, such as receiving likes and comments, activate the brain’s reward pathways, encouraging continued use. The dopamine release users experience when using Instagram is similar to the effects of gambling, food, and exercise. Unfortunately, excessive use of the platform can desensitize the brain’s reward system. As the reward system becomes desensitized, more stimulation is required to achieve the same level of pleasure previously experienced.

Furthermore, the use of the platform can impact a person’s mood and decrease self-esteem. It may lead to more social comparison and feelings of inadequacy, envy, anxiety, body dissatisfaction,  and depression. Finally, because the platform solely relies on pictures and reels, it may exacerbate body dissatisfaction, appearance anxiety, and depression.

Instagram and Mental Health in Teens and Adolescents

Young people are the most frequent users of social media apps, including Instagram. The National Center for Health Research indicates that at least 35% of adolescents and young adults report using at least one platform “almost constantly.” Over half report that it would be difficult for them to give up social media. Nearly one-quarter of adolescents believe that platforms such as Instagram have a “mostly negative effect.”

It is believed that features of Instagram and other platforms are designed to promote constant engagement and comparison, negatively affecting their mental health. Many adolescents who frequently use the platforms report feelings of anxiety, depression, or some form of mental illness. Research indicates that increased exposure to harmful content may lead to body dissatisfaction, eating disorders, and other severe mental health issues such as suicidal behavior. 

According to the Child Mind Institute, social media may increase a teen’s feelings of isolation since connecting online is often less emotionally fulfilling than an in-person connection. Additionally, social media may increase poor body image or low self-esteem, particularly in adolescent girls, since they are consistently provided with tailored or filtered images.

Finally, social media use has been linked to a disruption in sleep and the spread of misinformation. Teens may be exposed to cyberbullying, online predators, and concerning content. It is alleged that despite Meta knowing that its target audience consisted primarily of teens and young adults who were particularly vulnerable as they were still in a developmental phase, the company continued to promote and use algorithms that put these youth at risk.

The Instagram Addiction Scale (TIAS) 

The Instagram Addiction Scale (TIAS) was developed in 2019 to help measure addiction behavior on the platform. The scale is comprised of two subscales for Instagram Feed Addiction (IFA)  and Instagram Stories Addiction (ISA), which are illustrated through six core concepts of salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal, conflict, and relapse. Respondents are asked to use a 5-point Likert scale from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree,” indicating the level of addiction. 

Components for Instagram Feed Addiction (IFA): 

  • Salience: Focuses on the preoccupation with Instagram feeds and the thoughts about content when not actively using the application.
  • Tolerance: Focuses on the respondents’ engagement on the app and with the feed to gain attention and feedback.
  • Mood tolerance: Focuses on how the feed makes the respondent feel and if it is used to alleviate negative emotions or escape from personal problems.
  • Relapse: Focuses on whether the respondent is able to limit their time on the Instagram feed.
  • Withdrawal: Focuses on whether the feed brings up negative emotions or impacts behaviors. 
  • Conflict: Focuses on whether the feed impacts a person’s relationships or activities. 

Components for Instagram Stories Addiction (ISA):

  • Salience: Focuses on whether the person thinks or plans before posting on stories.
  • Tolerance: Focuses on whether the respondent posts in an effect to gain attention or feedback.
  • Mood tolerance: Focuses on the feelings evoked by Instagram stories.
  • Relapse: Focuses on whether respondents feel an urge to check stories continuously or how often a person thinks about the stories.
  • Withdrawal: Focuses on whether the being prohibited from seeing the content causes a change in behavior, mood, or emotion.
  • Conflict: Focuses on whether stories impact a person’s activities, interests, or relationships.

Prior to The Instagram Addiction Scale (TIAS), researchers had used the Bergen Social Media Addiction Scale (BSMAS) as a tool for determining social media addiction. The BSMAS is a simple, six-question self-reporting questionnaire using a 5-point Likert scale similar to TIAS. BSMAS can be used to assess any addictive behavior for any platform, but TIAS is specific for Instagram and assessing Instagram-related addictive behaviors. 

Instagram Addiction Research and Mental Health Statistics 

According to a recent study published in the European Journal of Public Health, college students who were more addicted to Instagram reported poorer mental health and well-being. Another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Psychiatry found that adolescents who spend over three hours per day on social media may be at a higher risk for mental health problems. 

Furthermore, an article released by Jefferson Health found that the overuse of social media could actually “rewire a young child’s or teen’s brain to constantly seek out immediate gratification.” Statistics also show that social media can lead to increased feelings of isolation, with 70% of teens reporting feeling “left out or excluded when using social media.”

Addicting Instragram Design Features

Current lawsuits allege that design features within the platform increase Instagram’s addictiveness. Features such as User Interface (UI), which focuses on the visual aspects of the app, and User Experience (UX), which encompasses overall user interaction, help to enhance and encourage users’ continuous engagement with the platform. 

Addictive design features of Instagram:

  • User Interface and Experience: Instagram’s UI and UX features focus on the visual aspects of the app, which enhance the user’s interaction through visually appealing elements and user interaction, which aims to create a seamless and engaging experience.
  • Personalized algorithms: Instagram analyzes interaction data in order to tailor content. This creates a feedback loop that increases content relevance and user addiction.
  • Infinite scroll: Infinite scroll allows users to scroll through endless content without any stopping cues. The idea is driven by ‘Unit Bias’ or the desire to continue what is started without an endpoint.
  • Pull-to-Refresh: This feature exploits the human attraction to unpredictability. It encourages continuous engagement by constantly refreshing content.
  • Notifications and alerts: The platform’s notifications and alerts trigger a dopamine release through alerts for social interactions such as likes and comments.
  • Stories and Live: Creates a sense of urgency and scarcity with ephemeral content increases feelings of FOMO (fear of missing out).
  • Instagram Reels: Introduced in 2020, the feature uses short-form video content to capture and retain the attention of users with shorter attention spans, particularly youth.

Current litigation suggests that the algorithms used by the platform specifically target younger users, potentially leading to harmful behaviors and increased mental health issues.

This infographic lists the addictive features Instagram has implemented to keep users engaged on their platform.

Instagram Complicit in Contributing to Teen Mental Health Crisis

An in-depth investigation by The Wall Street Journal, known as The Facebook Files, concluded that Facebook Inc. (now Meta) knew its platforms could harm users. In particular, a review of internal documents shows that the company knew Instagram was toxic to teenage girls, even more so than other platforms. Yet, leadership continued to downplay these harmful effects.

Research by Facebook indicates that the platform may exacerbate issues such as anxiety, depression, and poor body image.  Studies show that teen users not only have increased rates of anxiety and depression, but one in three adolescent girls reported a worsened self-perception as a result of the app. 

Despite these concerning findings, the research was not shared publicly. During congressional hearings, leadership for the company continued to promote the platform. Little to no changes have been made by the platform to mitigate the risk of harm to teen users, and executives continue to deny the seriousness of the mental health impacts observed by their internal research. It is alleged that the company continuously prioritized profits over safety, using algorithms that promoted the negative effects detailed in their research.

Signs of Instagram Mental Health Issues and Addiction Behaviors

Research shows that there are a number of mental health and addiction issues linked to Instagram use. These studies indicate that excessive engagement may correlate with psychological problems, including depression, anxiety, social comparison orientation, appearance anxiety, body image disturbance, and self-esteem issues. 

Signs of Instagram mental health issues and addictive behaviors:

  • Excessive preoccupation or obsession with your profile 
  • A preference for online interactions over face-to-face communications (social withdrawal)
  • The inability to stay in the moment 
  • Persistent comparison with others leads to a dissatisfaction with one’s life or appearance and self-esteem issues
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Compulsive behaviors
  • Feelings of anxiousness if you are unable to check Instagram
  • Sleep disruption
  • Reduced physical activity
  • FOMO
  • Obsession with notifications and alerts
  • Spending more than three to four hours per day on social media
  • Neglect of personal relationships
  • Social isolation
  • Feelings of envy or comparison
  • Thoughts of suicide

Instagram Effects on Mental Health

Instagram’s effects on a person’s mental health are well-documented. Research shows that excessive use of the platform can lead to adverse mental health conditions such as increased rates of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, body dysmorphia, self-harm, and suicidal ideation. It is believed that these impacts are related to the platform’s promotion of social comparison and status-seeking behavior.

Mental health concerns linked to the use of Instagram:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Eating disorders and body dysmorphia
  • Self-harm and suicidal ideation
  • Disruption in sleep
  • Changes in mood and behavior

Teens, some of the most frequent users of social media, are particularly vulnerable to negative mental health impacts. Teenage girls report worsening body image issues such as body dysmorphia and eating disorders as a result of Instagram use. 

Common Injuries Connected to Young Instagram Users 

There are several injuries connected to the use of Instagram among young users. Some of the most concerning include increased rates of suicide and self-harm.

Injuries connected to young Instagram users:

  • Depression and anxiety: Teens often feel increased feelings of sadness and nervousness due to excessive use of the platform.
  • Self-harm: There have been increased rates of self-harm, potentially in response to stress or negative experiences on Instagram.
  • Eating disorders: An increase in the number of eating disorders is believed to correlate with the unrealistic beauty standards set by filtered and altered photos on Instagram. 
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD): The constant exposure to idealized images on Instagram can lead to a distorted perception of one’s own body, leading to body dysmorphic disorder.
  • Physical violence: Research indicates an increase in violence when young users are exposed to violent content that normalizes physical altercations and desensitizes viewers to aggressive behavior. 
  • Insomnia and sleeping disorders: Overuse of the platform has been linked to sleep disruption, insomnia, and an adjustment to normal sleep patterns.
  • Suicidal thoughts and ideations: Instagram’s addictive nature and negative social comparisons have been linked to an increased rate of suicidal thoughts and ideations among young users. Suicide is currently the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 to 24.
  • Headaches and migraines: Excessive social media use has been linked to an increase in headaches and migraines, likely because of eye strain and tension.
  • Vision problems: Young users also report long-term vision problems caused by chronic eye strain.

This infographic lists the common mental health effects on young Instagram users, related conditions to declining mental health due to Instagram use, and a statistic of teen and young adult mental health related to Instagram use.

Recoverable Damages in the Instagram Lawsuit

Recoverable damages in an Instagram lawsuit may vary significantly depending on the individual circumstances of the case. Victims may be entitled to both economic and non-economic damages. The best way to determine what kind of damages you may be entitled to is by consulting with a qualified attorney who can assess your case and provide an accurate evaluation of your claim. 

Economic damages in an Instagram lawsuit: 

  • Medical expenses: Compensation for doctor visits, counseling, treatments, medications, and other interventions caused by social media-related health conditions.
  • Lost wages: Compensation for income lost as a result of reduced productivity, missed days at work, or long-term incapacity.
  • Ongoing therapy and future treatments: Compensation related to continued therapy, counseling, and psychiatric treatments necessary for recovery and management of mental health conditions.
  • Death benefits: Compensation in the event that a loved one dies due to a mental health condition related to Instagram use. 

Non-economic damages in an Instagram lawsuit:

  • Pain and Suffering: Compensation for emotional distress, trauma, and mental anguish caused by the negative impacts of Instagram.
  • Emotional Damage: Costs associated with the emotional and psychological effects of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders exacerbated by Instagram.
  • Loss of Quality of Life: Compensation for diminished ability to enjoy life, including daily activities, relationships, and hobbies, due to the adverse effects of Instagram.

A knowledgeable attorney can help assess and calculate the full scope of your economic and non-economic damages. In some cases, individuals may be entitled to punitive damages. Punitive damages are generally awarded where the defendant’s conduct is found to be intentionally harmful and are used to deter future similar conduct.

This infographic lists the recoverable damages possible in an Instagram mental health lawsuit.

Who Qualifies to File an Instagram Mental Health Lawsuit?

To file an Instagram mental health lawsuit, individuals must meet certain eligibility criteria. An attorney can provide a case evaluation to ensure you meet the necessary qualifications to file a claim.

Eligibility criteria for filing an Instagram mental health lawsuit may include:

  • Social media addiction began before you turned 21 years old. Addiction must surpass average teen social media use.
  • Proof of social media use for three or more hours each day.
  • Proof of psychological or physiological harm from Instagram use, including depression, anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders, or attempted suicide.
  • Qualifying eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.
  • Depressive disorders generally show a persistent sadness or disinterest in activities that affect school performance and personal relations.
  • Qualifying anxiety disorders may be exhibited by stress and worry that is exacerbated by social media use. It may cause information overload and lead to social comparison. 
  • Evidence of suicide or self-harm. These are the most severe injuries linked to social media addiction and should be reported immediately.
  • Proof of diagnosis and treatment of a social media-related injury.

This infographic lists the eligibility criteria for an Instagram Mental Health lawsuit.

Evidence to Gather to File an Instagram Lawsuit

Evidence in an Instagram lawsuit may prove crucial to determining the outcome of your case. An attorney can help ensure that all necessary evidence is collected and provided to substantiate your claim. Importantly, plaintiffs must show proof of their Instagram usage and its direct impact on their mental and physical health.

Evidence that may be necessary in an Instagram lawsuit:

  • Screenshots indicating social media use
  • Phone data usage
  • Official diagnosis and treatment of social media-related condition
  • Medical records
  • Expert testimony

An attorney can help calculate the cost for current and future medical treatment caused by injuries related to Instagram use. Individuals may be entitled to both economic and non-economic losses. However, non-economic losses such as pain and suffering and decreased quality of life may be difficult to quantify without the help of legal counsel.

How to File an Instagram Lawsuit for Mental Health

There are several steps to follow in order to effectively file an Instagram lawsuit for mental health. Without the help of an attorney, you may miss a critical step in the legal process.

  1. Determine eligibility: Prior to filing, you must verify that you meet the necessary criteria to file a lawsuit based on Instagram addiction.
  2. Collection of evidence: Once you have determined eligibility, you will need to gather all relevant evidence that can help to substantiate your claim. Relevant evidence may include documentation of social media usage, medical records detailing psychological or physical impacts, and any treatment history.
  3. File the lawsuit: An attorney can help determine what legal action you should take and any requirements that may apply to your case, such as a state-specific statute of limitation.
  4. Enter into negotiations: After the case is filed, your attorney may enter into negotiations with the defendants in an attempt to reach a fair and favorable settlement.
  5. Prepare for trial: If a fair and favorable settlement cannot be negotiated, the matter may be set for trial. Your attorney will represent you throughout the process.

Statute of Limitations for Filing an Instagram Lawsuit

All Instagram mental health lawsuits are subject to a statute of limitations. Statutes of limitations are state-specific and may depend on the individual circumstances of the case. The amount of time that you have to file the case may not start to run until you discover the social media-related injury. However, it is imperative to consult with an attorney as early in the process as possible to ensure timely filing of your claim. 

Instagram Mental Health Settlement Amounts and Payout Per Person

Instagram settlement amounts and payouts are expected to vary substantially depending on the individual circumstances of the case and are uncertain at this time. In general, the cases with the highest potential value are those involving teen suicide. These cases may result in settlements or payouts ranging from $1.5 to $5 million or more. 

Lawsuits involving less severe injuries, such as self-harm and eating disorders, are expected to have lower settlement values. Lower settlement values may range from $10,000 to $100,000 or more. Other qualifying injuries may include addiction disorders, depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, and suicidal thoughts or ideation. Victims of child sex abuse or CSAM violations may also have a valid claim for damages. 

No settlements have been reached since litigation is still in the early stages. Projections for potential settlements and payouts are based on mental health impacts, potential for serious outcomes, and comparisons to other mass tort settlements.

When Is the Instagram Settlement Payout Date?

The Instagram settlement payout date is unknown since the litigation is still in its early stages. Bellwether trials are expected to start in June 2025. The outcome of the Bellwether trials may influence settlement dates and potential recoveries.

Contact an Instagram Mental Health Lawyer

Individuals who suffered adverse mental health conditions as a result of Instagram use may be entitled to compensation by taking legal action. It is strongly recommended that individuals consult with an experienced attorney. The legal team at King Law has extensive experience handling Instagram mental health lawsuits. Our lawyers will work tirelessly to ensure you receive the outcome you deserve. Contact our office today to schedule a free case evaluation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is there a lawsuit against Instagram for mental health?
Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed across the United States against Instagram’s parent company, Meta. 475 cases have been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) out of the Northern District of California.
Is the Instagram lawsuit real?
Lawsuits against Instagram alleging that the company failed to protect its users from known harm are real and pending in courts across the country.
Is there a class action lawsuit against Instagram?
Hundreds of cases against Instagram have been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) out of California.
Why are people suing Instagram?
People are suing Instagram, alleging that the platform causes mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and increased rates of eating disorders in youth.
Can you sue Instagram for mental health?
Individuals who experienced adverse mental health conditions as a result of Instagram use may be able to take legal action against the company.
Can you sue Instagram for emotional distress?
Individuals who suffer adverse mental health conditions, including physical pain and emotional suffering, may be able to claim non-economic damages for emotional distress.
What are the eligibility criteria for filing an Instagram mental health lawsuit?
Eligibility criteria for filing an Instagram mental health lawsuit may include proof of social media addiction prior to the age of 21 and proof of diagnosis of an adverse health condition related to Instagram use.
How can I file a lawsuit against Instagram?
In order to file a lawsuit against Instagram, you need to ensure you meet the eligibility criteria. This can be done by consulting with an experienced attorney.
What evidence is needed to support an Instagram mental health lawsuit?
Evidence that may be needed to support an Instagram mental health lawsuit includes proof of Instagram use, medical records, expert witness testimony, and proof of treatment.
What types of damages can be claimed in an Instagram lawsuit?
Damages that may be claimed in an Instagram lawsuit may include compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, and pain and suffering.
How much is the Instagram lawsuit payout?
Instagram lawsuits are expected to range between $10,000 and $100,000 for most injuries and $1.5 to $5 million or more for cases related to teen suicide.
How much money will each person get from the Instagram settlement?
Because Instagram lawsuits are in their early stages, it is unclear how much money each person will get from a settlement. However, compensation may range from $10,000 to $100,000 or more per person.
How much is the Instagram settlement payout per person?
The Instagram settlement payout per person may range substantially based on the individual circumstances of the case. Settlement payouts per person may range from $10,000 to $100,000 or more.
What is the statute of limitations for filing an Instagram lawsuit?
The statute of limitations for filing an Instagram lawsuit is state-specific and may vary significantly depending on the individual circumstances of the case.
How does Instagram usage contribute to mental health issues in teens?
Studies show that Instagram use may contribute to mental health issues in teens, including increased rates of anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and eating disorders.
What are the injuries cited in Instagram lawsuits?
Injuries in Instagram lawsuits may include self-harm, suicide attempts, body dysmorphia, eating disorders, and other physical injuries.
How do Instagram’s design features contribute to user addiction?
Studies show that Instagram’s design features may contribute to user addiction, including their endless scroll, User Interface, User Experience, and Alerts and Notifications.