City of Providence sues social media platforms over ‘addictive, manipulative, harmful’ designs

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — The City of Providence announced they are moving to sue social media companies including, but not limited to Meta, Instagram and YouTube.

City officials said the lawsuit comes after national suits were filed questioning the companies on their privacy policies, data usage and various ethical concerns.

According to court documents obtained by ABC6 News, the city claims platforms like Instagram, Facebook and TikTok all purposefully manipulate their users and feed into addictive design models.

One of the city’s arguments is that by maximizing a user’s potential screen-time, the companies are fueling the user’s “addiction” to the product.

Another argument from the city claims the platforms cause harm to minors in particular. Some examples the city gave in their demand for a jury trial include the following:

  • The platforms encourage and cause increased usage of the apps by minors
  • Minors’ brains are particularly susceptible to manipulation by social media
  • Social media caused a significant mental heath toll on minors
  • Platforms harmed the city of Providence and its schools

Patricia Socarras, director of communications for the city of Providence offered the following statement when asked about the circumstances of the proposed lawsuit.

“These social media companies have direct impacts on the social emotional well being of our residents. Like any other company, they should be responsible in marketing and developing products and held accountable for the impacts of their products, which is why Providence, similar to other cities and towns across the country, is filing suit,” Socarras said.

The full list of platforms and parent-companies involved in the proposed lawsuit are as follows:

  • Meta Platforms Inc.
  • Facebook Holdings LLC
  • Facebook Operations LLC
  • Meta Payments Inc.
  • Meta Platforms Technologies LLC
  • Instagram LLC
  • Siculus Inc.
  • Snap Inc.
  • TikTok Inc.
  • TikTok LTD
  • TikTok LLC
  • Bytedance Inc.
  • Bytedance LTD
  • Alphabet Inc.
  • XXVI Holdings Inc.
  • Google LLC
  • YouTube LLC
Categories: National and World News