Meta Platforms and Snap were sued over a teenager’s suicide in the latest effort by an advocacy group to hold the social media giants responsible for addiction to their platforms.
Christopher James Dawley, who went by CJ, was a college-bound honours student who played sports and enjoyed outdoor activities, but he got so deeply drawn into social media and obsessed with body image that he was frequently communicating on Instagram at 3 am, according to the complaint filed Monday by his mother in federal court.
In January 2014, while CJ’s family was cleaning Christmas decorations and about a month before his 17th birthday, he posted “Who turned out the light?” on his Facebook page, held a 22-caliber rifle in one hand, his smart phone in the other, and shot himself to death, according to the complaint.
Like previous cases filed by Seattle-based Social Media Victims Law Center, the suit alleges that Meta deliberately designed algorithms that keep teens hooked onto their platforms to promote excessive use that they know is indicative of addictive and self-destructive use.
“Neither Meta or Snap warned users or their parents of the addictive and mentally harmful effects that the use of their products was known to cause amongst minor users,” Donna Dawley’s said in her complaint.
Meta and Snap representatives didn’t immediately respond to email messages after regular business hours seeking comment.
The case is Dawley v. Meta Platforms Inc., 22-cv-00444, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin.
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