Tech

Family sues Meta, blames Instagram for daughter’s eating disorder, self-harm – National


A California family is suing Metaparent company of Facebook and Instagram, claims that the tech giant has helped promote their daughter’s eating disorders, self-harm and suicidal thoughts for several years.

The litigationwas filed in the US Northern District Court for the Northern District of California earlier this week, alleging that Alexis Spence may created her first Instagram account at age 11 — two years before she hit the platform’s minimum age requirement of 13, NBC News reported.

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Almost immediately, Spence filled an echo chamber with dangerous columns. self-harm and anorexiaand addictive app for the age of eighteen, the lawsuit states.

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The Social Media Victim Law Center (SMVLC), a legal resource for parents of teen victims harmed by social media addiction and online abuse, has filed the lawsuit on behalf of Alexis and her parents, Kathleen and Jeffrey Spence, according to a press release via Business Wire.

The lawsuit relies heavily on internal Meta documents that were leaked by a whistleblower late last year, known as the Facebook Papers. In the docs, Meta refers to preteens as “herd animals” who “want to find communities where they can fit in.”

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It alleges that when Alexis opened her first Instagram account in 2013, then 5th graders were redirected to websites and information promoting eating disorders. Fearing that her parents might find out, “Alexis was able to find another user’s content explaining how to download an app that would disguise her Instagram icon as a desktop icon.” to hide her social media accounts from her parents,” the press release read.

By May 2014, Alexis had opened a second Instagram account using her school email address and was still able to use it despite not being able to access the inbox to authenticate the account. Meanwhile, Meta continues to roll out features and functions that expose her to harmful content.

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Documents made public for the first time in the lawsuit show Meta “referring to teen user activity open multiple accounts to evade parental rights as a “value-added proposition”, stated SMVLC.

“If you look at the extensive research that it [Meta] perform, they know exactly what they are doing for kids, and they continue to do that,” SMVLC founder Matthew Bergman, who represents Spence and her family, told NBC.

“I wish I could say that Alexis’ case is unusual. It cannot. The only aberration is that she survived”.

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The lawsuit describes Alexis as a “confident and happy kid” before she used Instagram, but says the 19-year-old has now been hospitalized for depression, anxiety and anorexia because of “content and harmful features” she was exposed to while using the app.

“Meta has programmed and operated its product to prioritize interaction over user safety, and Alexis has suffered several emotional, physical and financial harm As a result, so did her parents,” the lawsuit says.

Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, worked with 17 American news organizations to gain access to and analyze thousands of pages of internal company documents. The Facebook Papers was released last September.

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Facebook accuser, Frances Haugen, testifies in the US Senate on October 5, 2021.

Matt McClain / Getty Images)

Media articles at the time citing records in the Facebook Papers showed that employees of the social media giant warned the company of failing to tackle police abusive content, linked It has been accused of causing harm and its algorithms have incited political violence for years.

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Haugen testified before US and UK regulators about how she spoke Facebook prioritizes profits over safety. She said the company hid research assessing its role in inciting political violence, and its profiling has raised serious concerns about the extent to which its products hurt teenagers. adolescents, especially girls.

“What is super tragic is that Facebook’s own research shows that, when these young women start consuming this – this eating disorder content – they become more and more depressed. And it actually makes them use the app more,” says Haugen CBS ’60 Minutes in October before testifying before Congress about its negative effects.

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with a file from the Associated Press

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In the event of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

For a directory of support services in your area, visit The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.

Learn more about helping someone in crisis.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.





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