New York City sues several social networks for ‘fueling the youth mental health crisis’ |  Technology

New York City sues several social networks for ‘fueling the youth mental health crisis’ | Technology

New York City sues several social networks for ‘fueling the youth mental health crisis’ |  Technology

New York City’s tremendous efforts to end the epidemic of events committed by mentally ill people – on the subways, on the streets, in homes; an unstoppable wave after the pandemic – have found a new way to demonstrate. This Wednesday, the Big Apple filed a complaint against Google’s TikTok, Meta, Snap and YouTube companies, “for fueling the national youth mental health crisis,” announced Mayor Eric Adams.

The lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court by the City of New York, the Department of Education and the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, on which strained mental health services depend, alleges that these companies intentionally manipulate and create addiction among young users. , keeping them attentive to their platforms and causing undesirable effects in their behavior that are ultimately detrimental to personality development and coexistence with their environment.

The charge is based on three counts, according to New York State law: negligence, gross negligence and disorderly conduct. The plaintiffs are seeking a jury trial, changes in company policy and financial relief. According to the lawsuit, the behavioral disorders allegedly caused by addiction to the aforementioned platforms have created an additional financial burden and crisis for the city, with repercussions on schools, hospitals and other communities. At a press conference, Democrat Adams described New York teenagers as creatures of constant despair with anxiety; glued to their phones and performing poorly in school, in addition to losing their social skills and coexistence guidelines due to their addiction to screens.

Tackling the city’s mental health crisis has been a headache for Mayor Adams since the start of his term. He tried by all means, with a strengthening of police patrols in the metro – epicenter of the phenomenon, serving as protection for many homeless people, particularly affected – or even with the forced confinement in institutions of people presenting symptoms obvious imbalances. , a measure widely criticized by NGOs, specialists and groups of relatives of the people concerned. But targeting tech companies is new, especially in a city built “on innovation and technology,” Adams said in a statement. However, underlines the councilor, “many social media platforms end up endangering the mental health of our children, promoting dependence and encouraging dangerous behavior”.

“We are taking bold action on behalf of millions of New Yorkers to hold these companies accountable for their role in this crisis and working to address this public health danger,” a reality particularly undermined by the ravages of the pandemic. “This trial and action plan are part of a broader adjustment that will shape the lives of our young people, our city and our society for years to come. »

New York, however, is not the outpost of technological concerns. In the absence of new federal laws protecting children on the Internet, or at least regulations that keep up with the rapid pace of innovation, lawsuits seeking to hold companies accountable, brought by districts, are increasingly more common across the country. school network and a few California counties, among others, have long done so), groups of parents who say their children have been harmed by social media and even some prosecutors, like those in 41 states who have jointly denounced Meta in October. One of the arguments behind these claims is the express intention of technology companies to intentionally create addiction, as the tobacco industry once did with the incorporation of additives.

“We want teens to have safe, age-appropriate internet experiences, and we have more than 30 tools and features to help them and their parents. “We have been working on these issues for a decade and hire people who have dedicated their careers to keeping young people safe and protected on the Internet,” Meta spokesperson Andy Stone said in response to the lawsuit he authored. terms. considered unfounded. “Working with experts in youth, mental health and parenting, we have created services and policies to provide age-appropriate experiences for young people and rigorous controls for parents. »

“TikTok has industry-leading safeguards to support the well-being of teens, including age-related features, parental controls, an automatic 60-minute limit for users under 18, and other protections “said a company spokesperson. , cited by the Axios portal.

The recent appearance at the Capitol by executives of tech companies Meta, TikTok, During the hearing, members of Congress grilled executives for four hours about children’s online safety, but new bills continue to languish while lawsuits pose a growing and tangible threat to the business models of businesses. The social outcry generated by an investigation that once revealed that Instagram, Meta’s social network, was responsible for harming the mental health of adolescents by offering impossible models of beauty, seems to be far away. Since then, the commitment to artificial intelligence – a subject that was curiously not addressed during the Congressional hearing on January 31, since a specific session had already been dedicated to it – has multiplied in such a way that its own dynamics can destroy any attempt to regulate the offer of platforms for minors and adolescents.

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