One of the oldest social media lawsuits is based on a controversial legal theory. This lawsuit was brought by Jessica Guerrero against Facebook. She claims that over nine in ten teenagers use Facebook or Instagram and spend an average of three hours per day on the platform. The prolonged exposure to social media poses a risk to teens’ mental health and can cause a host of problems.
The family of an American who was killed in a terrorist attack sued Facebook, alleging that the social media platform’s algorithm recommended violent content to users. The family argued that this content caused the American to have a poor body image and to suffer from eating disorders and suicidal thoughts. Haugen also copied tens of thousands of pages of internal documents from Facebook, including its civil integrity unit. Ultimately, the court ruled against the family, citing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. This law is particularly relevant to online social media platforms, as it prohibits social media companies from being legally responsible for the content posted by their users.
A massive Florida personal injury law firm called Morgan has also filed a lawsuit against Facebook and Instagram. The firm claimed that the company illegally sold user data and violated users’ rights under the First Amendment. The lawsuit also named Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook. The lawsuit aims to prevent the government from monitoring the content of these platforms.
A lawsuit filed in 2017 by Selena Rodriguez’s mother against Facebook and Instagram was the oldest social media lawsuit filed against the social media giants. Selena took her own life in July of 2021. In addition to her death, her mother filed a wrongful death suit against the two companies. The lawsuit claims that the company was negligent and the companies failed to adequately protect users.
The law also limits Facebook’s ability to ban content on the basis of viewpoint. Furthermore, the company must publicly disclose any suspension or removal of content. According to the law, social media platforms with 50 million monthly users must publicly report the removal of content and accounts that violate the users’ rights. This law applies to all social media companies that make money from advertising.
Another case involving social media platforms involves a 23-year-old college student who was killed during the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015. The family of Gonzalez argued that YouTube used algorithms to push out Islamic State videos. The company, which is owned by Google, is accused of using its users’ information to push these videos to the top of search results. The videos played an important role in recruiting new members for ISIS outside of Syria and Iraq.
While the Texas law is likely to remain in place for the time being, the ruling could mean that the lawsuit will be sent back to the U.S. Supreme Court for further consideration. The Texas lawsuit will have an impact on regulation of the content posted by users of social media platforms.