Last Updated: August 19, 2022
Insider has recently revealed that eight lawsuits have been filed during the previous week, which accuse two of Meta’s platforms – Facebook and Instagram – of allegedly using “dark patterns” to lure young people into addiction. These addictive design techniques are said to be used by social media platforms to keep users engaged for extended periods of time, making them obsess over things like how their feeds look or the perfect moment to post the next picture on Instagram.
This is not the first time that the company has been accused of manipulating its users, but it may be the first time it will face legal consequences. The lawsuits were filed in Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas by Beasley Allen Law. The lawsuits filed by this well-known law firm state that Facebook and Instagram have caused harmful physical and psychological consequences in users, especially teenagers. Anxiety, loneliness, eating disorders, and sleep deprivation are just a few of the negative effects claimed by the plaintiffs.
These lawsuits followed the revelation in late 2021 that Meta had known for years that its technologies might have a negative impact on young users. The disclosures were recorded in the Facebook Papers, a trove of internal papers dumped by a former Facebook employee. The documents included an internal Facebook presentation from 2019, which stated that its services exacerbate body image concerns for one-third of teenage girls. These effects are closely related to the impact influencer marketing has on how young people form their self-image.
As a response to these allegations, a Meta representative gave a statement in which they tried to defend themselves, mentioning that the company’s platforms now include functions that allow parents to keep track of their children’s usage and provide alerts reminding users to take a break from its applications, which would help limit the time they spend on social media. These new accusations against Facebook as well as some previous worrisome statistics may lead to many people reconsidering their social media habits or even deactivating their Facebook accounts.