United States

New York City Mayor Files Lawsuit Against TikTok, YouTube, Facebook Over Mental Health Concerns

Through their product design and marketing strategies, these tech giants have broken several city laws pertaining to gross negligence and public nuisance.

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NYC Mayor Eric Adams announced to sue tech giants. Photo: Getty images
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New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced on Wednesday that his administration has taken legal action against the parent companies of major social media platforms, including TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and YouTube. The lawsuit alleges that these platforms are causing harm to the mental health of young adults and children in the largest city in the United States.

Joined by plaintiffs such as the school district and health organizations, the city of New York filed the lawsuit in the Los Angeles County branch of the California Superior Court due to the companies' ties to the area, as stated by attorneys involved in the filing.

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The lawsuit specifically targets Meta, Snap, ByteDance (the parent company of TikTok), and Google (owned by Alphabet), accusing them of intentionally designing and marketing their platforms to attract and addict young users, all while minimizing parental oversight.

According to the plaintiffs, these tech giants have violated several city laws related to public nuisance and gross negligence through their product design and marketing strategies. They argue that New York's school districts and various health and social services have suffered significant impacts due to children experiencing negative mental health consequences from their use of popular social media apps.

Mayor Adams stated, "Over the past decade, we have seen just how addictive and overwhelming the online world can be, exposing our children to a non-stop stream of harmful content and fueling our national youth mental health crisis." He emphasized that the lawsuit aims to hold these companies accountable and address the public health hazard posed by excessive social media use among young people.

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A warning poster against social media present during the announcement by NYC Mayor. Photo: Getty images
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In response to the lawsuit, representatives from the accused companies defended their platforms' safety measures and commitment to protecting young users. A TikTok spokesperson highlighted the platform's parental controls and age restrictions, while Google and Meta emphasized their efforts to provide age-appropriate experiences online.

The lawsuit filed by New York City echoes similar legal challenges brought against these tech companies in the past. In 2022, litigation filed in the Northern District of California made similar allegations, claiming that social media platforms were designed to maximize screen time and had caused emotional and physical harm to users.

As scrutiny over the impact of social media on mental health intensifies, lawmakers have been pushing for regulatory measures such as the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA). Tech CEOs, including those from Meta, TikTok, and Snap, have faced tough questions from lawmakers regarding their platforms' alleged negligence in protecting young users' well-being.

Moreover, a coalition of over 40 attorneys general recently filed a joint federal lawsuit against Meta, alleging that its products are addictive and harmful to mental health. These legal actions underscore the growing concern over the influence of social media on mental well-being and the need for regulatory intervention to address these issues.

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