Alphabet, Meta, ByteDance and Snap could be penalized for causing addiction in children

The Justice Department rejected an appeal from these four technology companies seeking to invalidate a ruling in a lawsuit filed by representatives of minors throughout the country.

An appeal from four companies that operate several of the most used social networks in the world has been denied. They were seeking to invalidate a lawsuit in which they are accused of "illegally attracting and creating addiction" in minors. These four technology companies are Meta Platforms (Facebook and Instagram), Alphabet, Inc. (Google and YouTube), Snap, Inc. (Snapchat) and ByteDance Ltd. (TikTok).

Yvonne González Rogers, judge for the United States Court for the Northern District of California, rejected the appeal from the four technology companies, who claimed that they “were immune from being sued under the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment and a provision of the federal Communications Decency Act," as reported by Reuters.

The lawsuit was filed by the representatives of several minors residing throughout the nation. They explain that the use of social media causes mental health problems in children, such as episodes of anxiety, depression and even suicide.

The plaintiffs claim "compensation for damages," although they do not specify the amount. They also request "the cessation of illegal practices" by the four defendant companies.

Not the first time tech companies sued for causing addiction in minors

In recent months, social media companies have been sued on several occasions for generating addictive content for minors. These complaints were presented by judicial bodies and even by state authorities.

In March, Arkansas officials — backed by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sandersaccused Meta and TikTok of “hooking young users.” They filed three lawsuits and relied on the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, ensuring that both used fraudulent strategies to attract minors with content that was harmful to them.

More recently, Utah Governor Spencer Cox and his Attorney General, Sean Reyes, sued ByteDance for inciting and enticing minors to consume harmful content. Days later, attorneys general from 33 states, sued Meta for spreading content with addictive effects on children.