back to article Meta slammed with eight lawsuits claiming social media hurts kids

Facebook and Instagram's parent biz, Meta, was hit with not one, not two, but eight different lawsuits accusing its social media algorithm of causing real harm to young users across the US.  The complaints filed over the last week claim Meta's social media platforms have been designed to be dangerously addictive, driving …

  1. b0llchit Silver badge
    Go

    True AI - nobody sees it for what it is

    The best way to make it? Fake it.

    This is a true artificial intelligence. It is completely artificial and it is intelligent.

    The fact that it was good ol' underpaid slave humans doing the intelligence stuff is no surprise. But it is intelligent - both the setup and the implementation. A completely artificial machine. One could not hope to do better with the Real ThingTM because this is the Real ThingTM.

    1. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: True AI - nobody sees it for what it is

      My question is, why would anyone trust this company with their credit card info over say, their web browser - and why did anyone think this useless company is worth 300 million?

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: True AI - nobody sees it for what it is

        Me too. Between my browser, Apple Pay and Paypal I can barely remember the last time I had to enter a CC num.

        Maybe their target market is non-digital crumblies?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: True AI - nobody sees it for what it is

        I don't even trust my browser with my CC info. Manual entry for me, every time. Just have to hope I never pick up a keylogger.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: True AI - nobody sees it for what it is

          That's why I use merchant-locked, charge-restricted virtual credit cards, except for the rare site where they're disallowed by the provider (privacy.com) or not accepted by the merchant (in which case I'll usually forego the purchase, because why bother with incompetence?).

          And, no, I don't let the browser remember them. For one thing, there's a different "card" for every merchant.

          Before that, I always entered my details manually. This Nate service sounds like the ultimate Lazy Rich People's product (aside from disabled users, for whom I'd think browser auto-fill would probably be nearly as good). Honestly, online shopping is already a tiny fraction of the work that real-world shopping is.

  2. Plest Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Social media is killing us

    "Social media use among young people should be viewed as a major contributor to the mental health crisis we face in the country," said Andy Birchfield, an attorney representing the Beasley Allen Law Firm, leading the cases, in a statement.

    Absolutely spot on!

    Social media pits people against each other, encourages one-upmanship, constantly "keeping up with the Joneses", which in turns pushes people to spend money they don't have, people worrying about their physical appearance especially pre-teen girls worrying about their body image, which can lead to severe depression, anxiety and even suicide. Social media is one of the worst things to ever have been invented to use the internet.

    On top of that, allowing people to have pointless job titles like "Social Media Influencer", it's not a fecking proper job! You make shit of no value and post is on the internet, allowing people to waste time and money encourging it. No, it is not entertainment, it's simply to waste time and kill brain cells. I post mindless cack too but mine are just whinges like this and I don't ask people for money or free stuff in return!

    1. Chris Gray 1
      Angel

      Re: Social media is killing us

      Lets all upvote this all to heck! Isn't that how social media is supposed to work? We can make "Plest" an *influencer*. For which he/she/it will then bless us with more wisdom.

      1. HildyJ Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Social media is killing us

        I'll upvote him but if they become an influencer they can no longer give us wisdom.

        Influencer and Wisdom are antithetical.

      2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Social media is killing us

        I'd love to be an 'influencer'

        Can live stream the meeting I'm going to have tommorrow with one of the operators

        Although I suspect tik tock et al will want me to censor it.... so how does a black screen with the word "censored" and an audio of someone screaming in terror sound just before the window creaks open and the scream getting quieter before a thump noise and a buzzzing as if the wood chipper has something stuck in it.

        Also funny fact of the week, donald trump's new social media thing "truth social" which allows people to post the truth about what happens in the world is banning people who try and discuss the Jan 6th insurrection.....

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Social media is killing us

          "insurrection"

          Forgive my ignorance but everything I have seen points to what happened being rather overblown by certain media and falling very short of an "insurrection". There was nothing organised about it and bar a very small number of numbskulls the majority of the people there had not clue what they were doing beyond "protesting".

          1. veti Silver badge

            Re: Social media is killing us

            As is usual on these occasions, there were people at various levels of involvement.

            Yes, a whole bunch of people were just there to protest. A significant minority of these allowed themselves to be carried along by the more hardcore elements. Probably they were also reassured by the president's lying promise to march with them.

            The question is, what the leaders of this movement intended. For sure they had much bigger plans than many of the crowd.

            That's how insurrection usually works. The women who tried to petition the Tsar in 1917 were, mostly, very far from card-carrying Bolsheviks. Some of those who stormed the Bastille would have called themselves loyal monarchists. The lukewarm are just carried along with the crowd, and many are appalled at the excesses that follow. But by then it's too late.

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Call it what it is...

      Antisocial Media

      I once saw a FB page. That 'once' was circa 2012 if not earlier. I do know that all of FB has been blocked at my firewall since

    3. John69

      Re: Social media is killing us

      > Social media is one of the worst things to ever have been invented to use the internet

      Social media came before the internet, see usenet.

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: before / early internet

        Back then, getting onto the precursors to social media required some kind of intelligence test and the false positives got drowned out by people with a clue. Round about September 1993, the barriers to entry crumbled and the ignorant out numbered those with the ability to recognise lies/fiction.

        One key step in getting the internet back is to teach critical thinking. Getting people to ask the important questions like "How does he know?", "Where is the link to the peer reviewed study?", "If the Earth is flat, why is the internet not covered with selfies from the rim fall?".

      2. Smeagolberg

        Re: Social media is killing us

        >Social media came before the internet, see usenet.

        Whilst Usenet might have been originally developed independently of the internet it did not predate it.

        (Perhaps you were thinking of the web?)

        1. that one in the corner Bronze badge

          Re: Social media is killing us

          Usenet over UUCP was available in 1980.

          If you take "The Internet" as being based upon TCP/IP, that switchover was made in 1983.

          Even if you allow for the pre-TCP-only network as The Internet, it had very reduced availability compared to UUCP so was not used to carry Usenet traffic.

          So Social Media was available to many (most?) well before The Internet was.

          1. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: Social media is killing us

            Usenet over UUCP was available in 1980.

            If you take "The Internet" as being based upon TCP/IP, that switchover was made in 1983.

            Even if you allow for the pre-TCP-only network as The Internet, it had very reduced availability compared to UUCP so was not used to carry Usenet traffic.

            So Social Media was available to many (most?) well before The Internet was.

            And somewhere in the early Eighties, spam started rearing it's ugly head. Some groups in Usenet were totally unusable because of it. Not much has changed since then except FB and their ilk have become flashier with graphics and animations. It's still a cesspool one should not go swimming in.

            1. that one in the corner Bronze badge

              Re: Social media is killing us

              Well, at least Usenet had *real* spam, with the same message being cross-posted to so many groups that all you'd see in your combined feed is the same thing, repeated ad nauseam: spam, spam, spam, spam (bloody vikings).

      3. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: Social media is killing us

        It is a source of much embarrassment to me that I was distracted by a combination of Usenet, Western European history, and writing ... instead of wine, women and song." -- Matt McLeod, in the Monastery

  3. DS999 Silver badge

    Obviously social media is terrible for kids

    I think very few would argue to the contrary. But should Facebook be held liable for that? If they are doing things that they know from internal research is definitely makes it WORSE for kids, but they decided to do it anyway because it is making them lots of money, then great sue them for that. To the extent the lawsuit can prove that maybe it will succeed, but I doubt anyone involved really cares about the kids - it is all about the money and/or political posturing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @DS999 - Re: Obviously social media is terrible for kids

      Terrible for kids but hell, good for the economy. Same as firearms.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: @DS999 - Obviously social media is terrible for kids

        The troll warrior nicname associated with this technique: "Hand Grenade"

        there are SO many controversial topics that _I_ could have wedged into this discussion, if I wanted to be disruptive... but I did NOT. (You're welcome)

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: Obviously social media is terrible for kids

      Parents need to exercise more of their OWN influence, like:

      * If you want to use social media, especially FB or Tik Tok buy your own phone and internet. (El Reg comment boards are exempt from this requirement)

      * Go OUTSIDE and PLAY. It is a NICE DAY! Here, have a ball, a bat, go to the park, PLAY. Get out of the house for more than 10 minutes and do NOT take your phone. i know where you will be. Get back by dinner time.

      * no more than 1 hour a day online (other than school work), and 2 hours for video games. Any more than that, and it gets unplugged. Buy your OWN electricity if you do not like it.

      * no carbs for you until you start exercising instead of sitting in front of a video screen or staring at a phone all day. And that goes DOUBLE for anything made of POTATOES.

      and so on.

      Not AGAINST suing a company for deceptively making its products addictive to children. But some fault lies with PARENTS, too. They need to teach MODERATION. It helps later in life, when you want to avoid DUIs or drug problems.

      1. Paul Herber Silver badge

        Re: Obviously social media is terrible for kids

        If you look at what many of the parents do and look like then you will see the problem!

      2. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Obviously social media is terrible for kids

        But it's so easy to keep your 4 year old crotch goblin calm and occupied while you make dinner by just handing them a phone with tictoc or youtube!

      3. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Obviously social media is terrible for kids

        Go OUTSIDE and PLAY. It is a NICE DAY! Here, have a ball, a bat, go to the park, PLAY. Get out of the house for more than 10 minutes and do NOT take your phone. i know where you will be. Get back by dinner time.

        Sadly, if you do that here anymore, someone will call child services.

        1. Plest Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Obviously social media is terrible for kids

          Yep, it's not the 1980s any more. You can't drive around any neighbourhood in a windowless white van these days and just find kids to pick up! I dunno what the world is coming to!

        2. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Obviously social media is terrible for kids

          And if someone thinks he's joking, think again: https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2014/09/25/kari-anne-roy-how-letting-my-kid-play-alone-outside-led-to-a-cps-investigation/

  4. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Investors are strange

    The first time I saw my browser fill in my name and address on a website I went to considerable effort to ensure that it kept no record of my name or address. Investors value a company at $300M because they say they can do something that browsers do unless you make the effort to stop them? Please can I have $300M for making tree leaves rustle when the wind blows.

    1. Plest Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Investors are strange

      Bought a new ( second hand mobile ), started it, logged in, installed the 3 apps i use but forgot to reset the privacy settings. I went away for a weekend with the missus and 2 hours after arriving Google sent me a notification that scared the hell out of me, "We see you recently arrived at the Premier Inn in XYZ. Would you like to rate your experience for others?".

      5 mins of searching, Google ironically, to find out how to stop the spy gadget in my pocket from watching my every move 24/7!

    2. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: Investors are strange

      "...making tree leaves rustle..."

      We know you are planning to pay someone to shake the branches. The problem with your business model is you can't hire workers in the Philippines to do it, at Philippines rates.

  5. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Mum's the wod

    "Oh Danny, you look miserable. I don't want my boy looking miserable".

    So I smiled at her.

    "Aye, maybe it's better if you look miserable."

    That's a Norm Macdonald or Jimmy Carr or Ricky Gervais joke, at their very best/worst. I can't compete with that.

  6. Khaptain

    Social media is terrible for "Everyone"

    Yes, it's damaging for Kids but let's not forget how damaging it is for adults as well...

    Fake news and conspiracy theory , both from the left and the right, designed to divide in order to conquer. The dumbing down of everything to the point where no place if left for rational thought. The witch-hunting and doxing when you don't agree with a particular ideology"....

    The internet has become a dark, sombre, dog eat dog courtyard in which the weak are preyed upon and idiots are hoisted onto pedestals for no apparent reason...

    It's the new church for the simple minded.

    This should have been a tool to unite us but instead it has simply become a tool of division..

    Should the Facebooks, Twitter etc be held accountable, of course they should, they benefit directly from the mayhem that they cause, and they have become masters at stirring the pot.

    1. ClockworkOwl
      Go

      Re: Social media is terrible for "Everyone"

      "The internet has become a dark, sombre, dog eat dog courtyard in which the weak are preyed upon and idiots are hoisted onto pedestals for no apparent reason..."

      Reminds me of a Hunter Thompson quote:

      "The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs.

      There's also a negative side..."

    2. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Social media is terrible for "Everyone"

      That division is not just down to social media, it seems to have been societal trend in many western countries where career politicians took over and will say whatever it takes to keep them in power and in their seat. And thus, every year they have to get edgier and edgier just to "stay relevant" while turning into complete moral vacuums with no opinion or idea of their own, brandishing whatever lobbied buzzword bullshit they get paid for.

      1. Smeagolberg

        Re: Social media is terrible for "Everyone"

        >That division is not just down to social media, it seems to have been societal trend

        Yes. The role of 'social' media is that of an amplifier, well-tuned for profit.

  7. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    If only children had around them grown-ups who ought to take some responsibility for what the children do. Perhaps that's too easy.

  8. Snowy Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Facebook

    Facebook is not social media it is an advertising platform that began at Harvard University in 2003 as Facemash, an online service for students to judge the attractiveness of their fellow students.

    Toxic to start and still toxic

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Facebook

      Back before that there was the Hot or Not website.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_or_Not

      Nothing new here, except the scale...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Evil by Design

    Virtue is all well and good, but Evil is better for the Bottom Line.

  10. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    I worked in IT for 30 years

    Never once needed to use social media.

    When asked to do so, I always politely declined, even when part of my job.

    It’s an absolute horror.

    There be dragons.

  11. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    My wife once took an account on FaceBook

    I told her not to, but she wanted to because that way, she said, she could post vacation pics for her close friends.

    Fine, I thought, after the vacation, we'll shut it down.

    Well, not exactly, obviously. It took two years, but she finally told me one day that she was shutting down the account because she had noticed she was wasting much too much time on it and the other posters (ie morons) were constantly making her angry.

    She shut it down because she was tired of being angry.

    Hallelujah.

  12. breakfast
    Black Helicopters

    The other part of autopilot safety...

    From what I can gather the other reason the Tesla autopilot is showing up as safer appears to be that it switches itself off if it realises an impact is unavoidable, so it is not *technically* driving the car when the collision takes place. If you realise there's a problem and try to correct but fail, you took over so as far as Tesla are concerned you're still responsible.

    Just feels a tad shady.

    1. Jedit Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      "the Tesla autopilot ... switches itself off if it realises an impact is unavoidable"

      Yep - I'd come in here specifically to say that Tesla are being investigated for this. It's really not the disengaging of the autopilot that's the issue, though; human drivers do need to be able to respond to emergencies. It's that the software reports back in such a way as to put the blame for the incident on the driver by saying they were in control.

    2. I am the liquor

      Re: The other part of autopilot safety...

      They ought to be measuring the overall performance of the system, including the human, as long as the human is still part of the system. If the AI never crashes, but the human crashes more when they're forced to take over, then the AI hasn't achieved any safety benefit.

  13. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    The problem with social media like Facebook is that for some people, it's so entrenched in their lives that it has to have a lot better governance than it has now. Right now, the governance is solely there to pretend to show to the world that they're doing something, but the way they act has got to be improved. Simply blocking people for using slightly the wrong words and labelling it 'hate speech that contravenes our community standards' isn't good enough by a long shot.

    Facebook is so full of dodgy ads for dodgy products and spam and yet far too many normal things are blocked.

    The trouble is that it's now too important to self-govern. It needs a totally independent body to administer it.

  14. icns01

    Really?! What about individual responsibility?

    Something is seriously wrong if any of these lawsuits succeed. I am all for holding corporations to account when they violate the public trust, but what about individual responsibility? We cant sue our way out of every social ill. This seems like Meta is being punished for just doing its job and doing it well. Its really ridiculous.

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