“The More I Learned, the Angrier I Became” Re: Social Media Companies
While all of us may be familiar with social media, not all of us understand its impacts on children and teens. As a result, we may underestimate the damages. Even worse, we underestimate the companies’ responsibility. Memphis social media attorney Darrell Castle would argue it’s important we be clear about both.
Castle is currently pursuing a lawsuit against the major social media companies on behalf of young people in Memphis and surrounding areas. Today he answered some of our most common questions about the suit and what led to it.
How did you become a Memphis social media attorney as part of your injury practice?
Castle: When I first heard about a case against Meta for a child’s suicide, I became fascinated. I’m an attorney, but I am also a father, and the data seriously concerned me.
I started out by casually looking at the social media litigation, as I would any other case. But then I started hearing other lawyers’ stories and the claims of many young people.
I talked to young people who managed to make it to the college level who were very concerned that their generation and the one after would not be successful when it became their turn to lead. Peers around them had no focus, because their minds were captive to apps and algorithms.
I heard from children and teens who should have been vibrant and full of life. Instead, the social media industry destroyed them.
These young people often couldn’t speak for themselves. Instead, their mothers and fathers had to tell their stories because they had died from suicide, anorexia, and other forms of self-harm.
Then I learned that these giant media companies, headed by billionaires, were deliberately making their products more addictive to capture the minds of young people more completely.
The more I learned, the angrier I became. I knew I had to join this litigation and give some voice to the victims.
How is social media hurting children and teens?
Castle: Well, first off, social media famously causes mental health issues for children, teens, and young adults. Research has shown that excessive use of social media can contribute to feelings of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and loneliness. In addition, these numbers increase with increased use. In other words, the more time we spend on these apps, the more likely we are to experience negative mental health consequences.
These numbers disproportionately affect young people. Children and teens who spend too much time on social media may be at risk for cyberbullying, which can lead to further emotional distress and even physical harm. They may come in contact with abusive and exploitative material. And they might find content that exacerbates body dysmorphia and encourages eating disorders.
While a lot of teens have reported a range of impacts, the lawsuit represents young people who’ve experienced the most extreme harms.
You’ve mentioned elsewhere that the social media companies know this is happening. What makes you say that, and what have they done to address the problem?
In short, they know and have done nothing.
Here’s what makes me say they know: their own studies show it.
According to internal documents and Congressional testimony, social media companies including Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat were aware of the negative effects their apps could have on children’s brains. They discussed it openly in private meetings and presentations.
However, instead of addressing this issue, they either did nothing or even intentionally designed their products to be more addictive.
Furthermore, these companies didn’t provide adequate protection for children from dangerous content, didn’t verify the ages and identities of their minor users, and set up systems that could bypass parental control and monitoring. They also failed to protect minor users from being sexually abused and exploited on their sites.
And last but not least, they never adequately warned parents about the potentially lethal content their children might encounter on these apps.
Who are you representing in the lawsuit? And what should someone do if they think they have a case against social media?
We’re representing minors of any age 23 and younger who experienced physical harm as a result of using social media.
If your child is 23 years old or younger and has experienced suicidal thoughts or actions, eating disorders, exploitation and abuse, or self-harm due to social media, it is important to take action as soon as possible.
Contact us at 901-327-2100 or fill out the form below to speak with us about your situation and get your questions answered. There is no obligation or risk. If we decide to work together on your case, we won’t receive any compensation unless we succeed.
Social Media Case InquiryI would like to find out more about the social media lawsuit and see if I have a case.
If you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call 988 to reach the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. This is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone in the US 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.