New York City files lawsuit against TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube for alleged negative impact on children’s mental health

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has taken a bold step by filing a lawsuit against the parent companies of popular social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and YouTube. He claims that these platforms are causing significant harm to the mental well-being of young adults and children residing in the bustling city.

Adams believes that the services provided by these social media giants have a detrimental impact on the mental health of the city’s youth. By taking legal action, he aims to shed light on the potentially harmful effects of excessive social media usage and hold the companies accountable for their role in exacerbating mental health issues among the younger generation.

This lawsuit signifies a growing concern regarding the influence of social media on mental health. It highlights the need for a thorough examination of the negative consequences that prolonged exposure to these platforms can have on vulnerable individuals. Mayor Adams’ decision to take legal action is a proactive approach towards addressing this pressing issue, ensuring the protection and well-being of young New Yorkers.

The lawsuit was filed in the Los Angeles county branch of the California Superior Court by the city of New York, along with plaintiffs including the school district and health organizations. Attorneys stated in the filing that the companies involved have ties to the area.

The lawsuit claims that Meta, Snap, ByteDance, and Google (whose parent company is Alphabet) were fully aware of the consequences when they intentionally created, developed, and promoted their platforms to engage and captivate young users, all while minimizing parental supervision.

The plaintiffs claim that the tech companies violated several city laws regarding public nuisance and gross negligence by creating and promoting their addictive products. They argue that the use of popular social media apps has had a detrimental impact on New York’s school districts and various health and social services, particularly affecting the mental health of children.

“According to Adams, we have witnessed the addictive and overwhelming nature of the online world over the past decade. This has resulted in our children being exposed to harmful content continuously and has contributed to the deteriorating mental health of our youth. In a statement, Adams declared that today, we are taking decisive action on behalf of millions of New Yorkers. Our objective is to hold these companies accountable for their role in this crisis, while also building upon our existing efforts to address this public health hazard. He emphasized that this lawsuit and action plan are just a part of a broader reckoning that will significantly impact the lives of our young people, our city, and our society for many years to come.”

According to a spokesperson from TikTok, the company has implemented robust measures to ensure the safety of teenagers on the platform. These measures include parental controls and age restriction features, which are considered to be among the best in the industry.

According to the spokesperson, the company actively collaborates with industry experts to stay updated on the latest best practices. They are committed to ensuring the safety of their community and are dedicated to addressing challenges that affect the industry as a whole.

A representative from Google has stated that the allegations are “simply not true.”

Google expressed their commitment to ensuring a safer and healthier online experience for young people. They emphasized their collaborative efforts with youth, mental health experts, and parenting experts in developing services and policies that cater to age-appropriate experiences for young users. Additionally, they highlighted the importance of providing parents with robust controls to further enhance online safety for children.

According to Meta, the company has dedicated ten years to addressing these concerns. Their primary goal is to ensure that teenagers have a safe and age-appropriate online experience. To achieve this, they have developed over 30 tools and features that aim to support both teenagers and their parents.

According to a spokesperson from Snap, the company intentionally designed Snapchat to stand out from traditional social media platforms. The main focus of Snapchat is to foster conversations among close friends.

According to a spokesperson from Snap, Snapchat differentiates itself from other social media platforms by opening directly to a camera rather than a feed of content. This feature encourages active engagement rather than passive scrolling. Additionally, Snapchat does not have traditional public likes or comments, creating a more private and intimate environment for users. The spokesperson also highlighted the positive impact Snapchat has on its users, specifically in helping close friends feel connected, happy, and prepared to navigate the challenges of adolescence. While there is always room for improvement, Snap feels confident about the role Snapchat plays in enhancing the social experience for its users.

In a lawsuit filed in New York, Meta, Snap, TikTok, and Alphabet are facing allegations similar to those made against them in a 2022 litigation case in the Northern District of California. School districts and individuals have claimed that the products of these companies are defective because they are intentionally designed to maximize screen time, which has caused various emotional and physical harms, including death.

Social media companies face criticism from lawmakers who are advocating for regulation through bills like the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA). Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, and Snap CEO Evan Spiegel appeared before a Senate Judiciary hearing in late January. During the hearing, they were subjected to tough questioning by a bipartisan group of lawmakers regarding their alleged failure to adequately protect children.

A group of more than 40 attorneys general has come together to file a collective federal lawsuit against Meta, claiming that the company’s products have addictive qualities and pose a threat to mental health.

Written by Jonathan Vanian from CNBC

Jonathan Vanian works as a technology reporter for

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