A federal judge on Tuesday rejected efforts by major social media companies to dismiss nationwide litigation accusing them of targeting their platforms to children, causing them to become addicted and damaging their mental health.
US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, Calif., ruled against Alphabet, which operates Google and YouTube; Meta Platforms, which operates Facebook; ByteDance, which operates TikTok; and Snap, which operates Snapchat.
The decision covers hundreds of lawsuits filed on behalf of individual children who allegedly suffered negative physical, mental and emotional health effects from social media use including anxiety, depression, and occasionally suicide.
Rogers rejected arguments that the defendants were immune from being sued by the US Constitution’s First Amendment, and a provision of the federal Communications Decency Act that shields internet companies from third-party actions.
She dismissed some claims that the defendants’ platforms were defectively designed.
The litigation seeks, among other remedies, unspecified damages and a halt to the defendants’ alleged wrongful practices.
More than 140 school districts and more than 30 state attorneys general have filed similar lawsuits against the industry.