Are There Consequences for Social Media? Well, Not Really

December 5, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

While parents and legal guardians are responsible for their kids screen time, the US government ruled that social media companies shoulder some responsibility for rotting kids’ brains. The Verge details the government’s ruling in the article, “Social Media Giants Must Face Child Safety Lawsuits, Judge Rules.” US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that social media companies Snap, Alphabet, ByteDance, and Meta must proceed with a lawsuit alleging their platforms have negative mental health effects on kids. Judge Gonzalez Rogers dismissed the companies’ motions to dismiss the lawsuits that accuse the platforms of purposely being addictive.

The lawsuits were filed by 42 states and multiple school districts:

"School districts across the US have filed suit against Meta, ByteDance, Alphabet, and Snap, alleging the companies cause physical and emotional harm to children. Meanwhile, 42 states sued Meta last month over claims Facebook and Instagram “profoundly altered the psychological and social realities of a generation of young Americans.” This order addresses the individual suits and “over 140 actions” taken against the companies.”

Judge Gonzalez Rogers ruled that the First Amendment and Section 230, which say that online platforms shouldn’t be treated as third-party content publishers, don’t protect online platforms from liability. The judge also explained the lawsuits deal with the platforms’ “defects,” such as lack of a robust age verification system, poor parental controls, and a hard account deletion process.

She did dismiss other alleged defects that include no time limits on platforms, use of addictive algorithms, recommending children’s accounts to adults, and offering a beginning and end to a feed. These are protected by Section 230.

The ruling doesn’t determine if the social media platforms are harmful or hold them liable. It only allows lawsuits to go forward in court.

Whitney Grace, December 5, 2023

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