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Big Tech Companies Lose Bid to Dismiss Lawsuits Alleging Harm to Children

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A federal judge on Tuesday rejected efforts by major social media companies to dismiss nationwide litigation accusing them of targeting their platforms at children, causing them to become addicted and harming their mental health.

U.S. District Judge Yvonne González Rogers in Oakland, California, ruled against Alphabet, which operates Google and YouTube; Meta Platforms, which operates Facebook; ByteDance, which operates TikTok; and Snap, which operates Snapchat.

The decision covers hundreds of lawsuits filed on behalf of individual children who allegedly suffered negative effects on their physical, mental and emotional health from social media use, including anxiety, depression and, occasionally, suicide.

The judge ruled against Alphabet, which operates Google and YouTube; Meta Platforms, which operates Facebook; ByteDance, which operates TikTok; and Snap, which operates Snapchat.
AFP via Getty Images

Rogers rejected arguments that the defendants were immune from being sued under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and a provision of the federal Communications Decency Act that protects Internet companies from third-party actions.

She dismissed some claims that the defendants’ platforms were defectively designed.

The litigation seeks, among other remedies, unspecified damages and an end to the defendants’ alleged unlawful practices.

More than 140 school districts and more than 30 state attorneys general have filed similar lawsuits against the industry.

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