New York City Takes Legal Action Against Social Media Companies Over Alleged Harm to Youth

New York City Takes Legal Action Against Social Media Companies Over Alleged Harm to Youth

( – New York City Mayor Eric Adams, in coordination with several other local officials and agencies, is suing five social media companies for “fueling” the mental health crisis affecting the country’s youth. They’re joining school districts from all over the country to compel the tech CEOs to alter their programs and help cover the costs of the threat their platforms allegedly helped to create. The liberal mayor also released a plan for New York to support affected families and study the long-term impacts of social media on kids.

Adams’ announcement springboarded off an advisory from the New York Health Commissioner’s office released in January 2024, which declared uncontrolled social media use a “public health hazard.” It recommended adults and social media companies deny children access to all platforms until the age of 14, noting the addictive nature of their use and the harmful effects of some available content. He and other officials want to hold Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube accountable for the damage.

The New York leaders allege that the companies designed their pages in ways that intentionally addict children and teens. Specifically:

  • They make use of algorithms that extend usage time and trigger compulsive use.
  • The platforms trigger emotional reward centers by encouraging “likes” and “hearts.”
  • Pages feature nonstop advertising and content.
  • They use “reciprocity,” or mechanics that pull users back to their platforms via real-time notifications, forcing continued engagement.

The 311-page complaint, filed on February 14, claimed social media companies employed the same tactics as slot machines to maximize revenue. The plaintiffs allege that developers understood that such algorithms could adversely affect children, but the companies targeted them anyway. It reported that among users between the ages of 13 and 17, over one-third admitted to “almost constantly” engaging on social media — but over half felt “powerless to stop” using the websites. The complaint charges that the behavior is affecting their learning environments, interfering with sleep, and virtually poisoning their brains.

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