Blue Springs mom sues Facebook, alleging platform led to teen’s mental health problems

Tony Avelar/AP

A Blue Springs mother is suing Facebook on behalf of her daughter, alleging that the social media platform contributed to the teenager’s thoughts of suicide, eating disorders and depression.

The 99-page federal lawsuit was filed last week in the Western District of Missouri against Meta, the tech company that owns platforms including Facebook and Instagram.

“Meta knowingly exploited its most vulnerable uses—children throughout the world—to drive corporate profit,” the lawsuit says.

The teen became a “heavy user” of the social media sites, the lawsuit alleges, leading her to lose interest in other activities and have difficulty sleeping. Her addiction, according to the lawsuit, caused periods of suicidal ideation, self-harm, eating disorders, depression and anxiety.

“Defendants have intentionally designed their products to maximize users’ screen time, using complex algorithms designed to exploit human psychology,” the lawsuit reads.

It goes on to allege that “endless” feeds on Facebook and Instagram and text or email notifications feed into addictive behavior, and that teens are particularly vulnerable because their brains are still developing.

The lawsuit lists nine causes of action including product liability, design defect and negligence.

Meta said it does not comment on active litigation. But the company said it continues to make improvements to support teens including controls designed to limit the content they see, prohibiting harmful content about suicide or bullying and new parental supervision tools.