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November 17, 2023

Northern District of California Rules on Motions to Dismiss in Multi-District Litigation on Adolescent Social Medial Addiction

On November 14, 2023, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California denied motions to dismiss filed by the social media defendants, including Meta’s Facebook and Instagram, Google’s YouTube, ByteDance’s TikTok, and Snapchat. The MDL involves hundreds of lawsuits filed across the United States by individuals, school districts, and state Attorneys General. The lawsuits allege products liability and negligence claims that overlap with health care law in their theory that the social media giants engage in practices that cause youth social media addiction and have adverse mental health effects on children. The Court summarizes its key rulings as follows:

  • MTD2 is GRANTED on Section 230 grounds as to plaintiffs’ products liability design defect claims (Claims 1 and 3) to the extent they are based on the defects alleged at paragraphs 845 (e), (h), (i), (t), (u), (l),86 and (j), as well as paragraph 864(l) of the MAC. MTD2 is GRANTED on First Amendment grounds as to plaintiffs’ products liability design defect claims (Claims 1 and 3) arising out of the defect alleged at paragraph 845(l) of the MAC insofar as that defect concerns the timing and clustering of notifications of defendants’ content. MTD2 is otherwise DENIED as set forth herein.
  • The Court FINDS plaintiffs’ negligence per se claim (Claim 5) not barred by Section 230 or the First Amendment.
  • With respect to the functionalities that remain after the rulings with respect to Section 230 and the First Amendment, MTD1 is GRANTED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND as to plaintiffs’ claims that defendants had and breached a duty to protect platform users from harm by third parties, such as adult predators. MTD1 is otherwise DENIED as set forth herein.
  • With respect to the arguments regarding the remaining elements of plaintiffs’ negligence per se claim (Claim 5), as they require adequate briefing, those arguments are deemed WITHDRAWN without prejudice.
  • Snap’s supplemental filings requesting dismissal of plaintiffs’ claims specific to the Snapchat platform are DENIED.  
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