The mother of an 11-year-old girl who killed herself last year after allegedly developing an “extreme addition” to Instagram and Snapchat has sued the two social media companies in federal court.
The girl’s mother, Tammy Rodriguez of Enfield, Conn., filed the lawsuit against the parent companies of both tech platforms in San Francisco federal court on Thursday.
She claims that her daughter, Selena, became addicted to the two apps — so much so that when she tried to limit her daughter’s access to them, she ran away from home.
Selena was taken to a therapist, who told the girl’s mother that “she had never seen a patient as addicted to social media as Selena,” the lawsuit claims. News of the lawsuit was first reported by Bloomberg.
Tammy Rodriguez is being represented in the case by a Seattle-based law firm, the Social Media Victims Law Center, which says it “works to hold social media companies legally accountable for the harm they inflict on vulnerable users.”
Big Tech firms, including Instagram’s parent company Meta as well as Snap, have come under severe criticism recently over claims that they failed to stem the harmful effect their platforms have on young children.
Shares of both Meta and Snap were slightly down in morning trading on Wall Street.
“We are devastated to hear of Selena’s passing and our hearts go out to her family,” a spokesperson for Snap told The Post. “While we can’t comment on the specifics of active litigation, nothing is more important to us than the wellbeing of our community.”
“We work closely with many mental health organizations to provide in-app tools and resources for Snapchatters as part of our ongoing work to keep our community safe,” the spokesperson said.
The Post has reached out to Meta seeking a response to the lawsuit; the company didn’t immediately respond.
In November, Meta responded to allegations that it disregarded its own engineers’ warnings over the harm its products were causing to youngsters by saying: “We continue to build new features to help people who might be dealing with negative social comparisons or body image issues.”
In 2017, a 14-year-old British girl, Molly Russell, died by suicide after going on Instagram and being “pushed into a rabbit hole of depressive content,” her parents alleged.
Last year, researchers at Brigham Young University found that intense usage of social media platforms placed young girls at increased risk of suicide.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or are experiencing a mental health crisis, call the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.