Wisconsin Mom Sues Meta Over Teen Son's Suicide

He 'became addicted to defendants’ social media product' lawsuit states
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 12, 2022 4:03 PM CDT
Wisconsin Mom Sues Meta Over Teen Son's Suicide
Facebook's Meta logo sign is seen at the company headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.   (AP Photo/Tony Avelar, File)

(Newser) – A Wisconsin mother whose son took his own life in 2014 says he was a normal, sports-loving teen until he got sucked into social media. Donna Dawley on Monday filed a lawsuit against Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta, alleging that the company deliberately designed algorithms that made the platforms addictive, Bloomberg reports. She says her son, Christopher James Dawley, "never showed outward signs of depression or mental injury but became addicted to defendants’ social media products, progressively sleep deprived, and increasingly obsessed with his body image."

The lawsuit states that in January 2014, roughly a month before Christopher's 17th birthday, he posted, "Who turned out the light?" on Facebook and shot himself with a rifle, holding his smartphone in one hand and the weapon in the other. His mother says he was a college-bound honor student before his social media addiction took hold. The lawsuit also names Snap Inc., which developed Snapchat. Neither company "warned users or their parents of the addictive and mentally harmful effects that the use of their products was known to cause amongst minor users," the lawsuit states.

Last year, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen accused the company of putting "profits over safety" and ignoring internal research that showed Instagram's harmful effects on young people. Dawley's lawsuit is being supported by the Seattle-based Social Media Victims Law Center. Earlier this year, the center filed a lawsuit against Meta and Snap on behalf of a Connecticut mother whose 11-year-old daughter took her own life last July, Engadget reports. Selena "struggled for more than two years with an extreme addiction to Instagram and Snapchat," that lawsuit stated. (Read more Meta stories.)

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