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Zuckerberg of Meta aims to evade lawsuits over Instagram addiction claims.

Photo: Bloomberg

Zuckerberg Seeks Immunity in Meta Addiction Lawsuits

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta Platforms Inc., aims to avoid personal liability in lawsuits alleging social media addiction among children. The California federal court hearing explored this, with a pending ruling. Success for Zuckerberg would dismiss him personally, but not impact Meta's culpability. The legal challenge arises from claims that Zuckerberg ignored warnings about Instagram and Facebook's impact on children. Over 1,000 suits against Meta, Google, TikTok, and Snap are part of this broader litigation.

Plaintiffs argue Zuckerberg, as the face of Meta, has a duty to honestly address platform risks to children's health. Lawyers quote "With great power comes great responsibility," from Spider-Man comics, criticizing his alleged failure. Zuckerberg contends his role as CEO doesn't warrant personal accountability, supported by legal precedent. US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland allowed some claims against companies but pressed plaintiffs on specific laws supporting Zuckerberg's responsibility.

Rogers appears sympathetic to claims that Zuckerberg, as a corporate officer, could be liable for concealing safety information. Discussions centered on varying state laws covering corporate officer responsibility. Zuckerberg, Meta's major shareholder, also faces personal liability in a separate 2022 Cambridge Analytica lawsuit. Proving executive liability depends on involvement in daily decisions or knowledge of practices, more apparent in smaller companies. Social media's impact on mental health and explicit content dissemination is under Senate scrutiny, with Zuckerberg apologizing in a recent hearing.

The case: In Re Social Media Adolescent Addiction/Personal Injury Products Liability Litigation, 22-md-03047, US District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).

Feb. 24, 2024 2:18 p.m. 1399

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