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Mom Sues Instagram & Snapchat After 11-Year-Old Daughter’s Suicide While Battling Social Media Addiction

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The Social Media Victims Law Center (SMVLC) has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the mother of an 11-year-old Conneticut girl who died by suicide last year amid a severe social media addiction.

The lawsuit seeks to take action against Snapchat Inc. and Meta Inc. – the conglomerate behind Instagram and Facebook.

Filed in California, the lawsuit claims the child’s mother, Tammy Rodriguez, sought help for her daughter for two years before her death.

The lawsuit claims Snapchat & Instagram are responsible for the 11-year-old’s suicide.

Rodriguez says when she tried to take away her daughter’s devices, she would run away from their home. 

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The mother says the pandemic worsened her daughter’s addiction, leading her to develop an eating disorder and practice self-harm.

The lawsuit quotes an assessment from an outpatient therapist who the 11-year-old had been seen by. 

The therapist “had never seen a patient as addicted to social media,” according to the lawsuit.

The 11-year-old underwent in-patient psychiatric treatment multiple times. However, she began emotionally and physically abusing her mother and siblings. 

The lawsuit alleges that the social media sites failed to protect the 11-year-old.

Adult men that were in contact with Rodriguez’s daughter allegedly solicited her to post sexually-explicit content. That content was reportedly shared with the girl’s classmates.

Snapchat and Meta are accused of not having adequate safeguards in place that could have prevented this from happening. 

The lawsuit suggests that the sites, as well as being deliberately addictive, have no tools to prevent children from being sexually exploited or abused and could have had a system that notifies their parents.

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The two social media companies are also accused of not verifying minors’ age and identities or having adequate parental controls.

Another Oregon family has taken a similar lawsuit against Snapchat and Meta.

SMVLC also filed a lawsuit on behalf of the family of a 15-year-old girl who was allegedly hospitalized for psychiatric episodes related to her social media addiction.

The victim’s mother and plaintiff, Brittney Doffing, claims her daughter quickly developed her addiction after not being allowed on the social media platforms until she was 14.

This lawsuit accuses the platform of negligence, having defective designs, not warning users of the physical and mental harms that can stem from social media use, and sex discrimination for exposing her daughter to "harmful content, advertising and recommendations based upon her female gender."

Doffing claims that her daughter’s grades plummeted and she developed an eating disorder due to the "recommendations and content" the platforms provided.

The lawsuit claims that men also "solicited for sexual exploitive content and acts on numerous occasions" from Doffing’s daughter on a number of occasions. 

The lawsuit demonstrates some of the worst side effects of social media.

Amid a youth mental health crisis, which has repeatedly been tied to the rise of technology and social media, the lawsuits cast blame on those facilitating social media addictions. 

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Alice Kelly is a senior news and entertainment editor for YourTango. Based out of Brooklyn, New York, her work covers all things social justice, pop culture, and human interest. Keep up with her Twitter for more.