NBC reports that the lawsuit was filed in US District Court for the Northern District of California earlier this week on behalf of Alexis Spence, who created her first Instagram account when she was aged 11 without her parent’s consent.
The minor surpassed Instagram’s regulations and was able to create an account two years before the platform’s minimum age requirement, which is 13.
According to the family, shortly after joining the social media platform, Alexis was bombarded with content that glorified thin bodies and anorexia, which led her to develop an ‘addiction’ to Instagram.
Due to her algorithms, Instagram also directed her to photos and videos displaying underweight models, unhealthy eating and eating disorder content. This subsequently led her down a path of anxiety, depression, eating disorders, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
While exploring content, Alexis could 'find other users' content explaining how to download an application that would disguise her Instagram icon as a calculator icon to hide her social media accounts from her parents, according to a press release on the lawsuit.
Her parents, Kathleen and Jeffrey Spence, also alleged that Alexis was a ‘confident and happy’ child before activating an Instagram account.
Now, 19, despite Alexis overcoming countless mental health issues, she has undergone ‘professional counselling, in-patient programs and out-patient programs’ and will likely need ongoing medical attention to ensure she doesn’t relapse.
Founding attorney for Social Media Victims Law Centre - the branch that filed the lawsuit, Matthew Bergman said that Meta 'consistently' prioritises its profits over the safety of minors.
He said: “Meta has consistently and knowingly placed its own profit over the health and welfare of its teen and underage users.
“These documents, including some that have not been previously disclosed to the public, show that Meta’s senior leadership knew that Instagram harms kids but consciously and callously chose profits over human life.
“The social media giant spent millions of dollars researching and developing product features to attract and retain a steady stream of pre-teen users despite warnings from Meta employees that its products were addictive and harmful to its users.”
However, in October, Meta CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg hit back at claims that his platforms were detrimental to underage users, expressing that girls going through hardship said that Instagram had ‘made those difficult times better rather than worse’.
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