Zuckerberg escapes personal liability in social media addiction suits

Mark Zuckerberg won his bid to avoid personal liability in about two dozen lawsuits accusing Meta Platforms Inc. and other social media companies of addicting children to their products.

US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who is overseeing the cases, sided with the Meta chief executive officer in a ruling issued Monday.

The decision dismisses Zuckerberg as an individual defendant without affecting claims against Meta as a company.

Lawsuits filed on behalf of young people have alleged that Zuckerberg was repeatedly warned that Instagram and Facebook weren’t safe for children but ignored the findings and chose not to share them publicly.

Rogers ruled that Zuckerberg was not required to disclose safety information absent a “special relationship” with the users of Meta’s products, according to the order.

The judge also said Zuckerberg couldn’t be held liable just because he’s the public face of Meta.

Finding otherwise would create “a duty to disclose for any individual recognisable to the public,” Rogers wrote in the ruling.

“The court will not countenance such a novel approach here.”

Rogers said the Meta users and family members who sued can amend and refile their complaints.

At a hearing in February, the judge appeared sympathetic to plaintiffs’ arguments that Zuckerberg could be held liable for personally concealing information as a corporate officer at Meta.

A Meta representative and an attorney for the plaintiffs didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The cases naming Zuckerberg are a small subset of more than 1,000 suits in state and federal courts by families and public school districts against Meta, Alphabet Inc.’s Google, ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok, and Snap Inc., owner of the Snapchat platform.

Rogers allowed some claims to proceed against the companies while dismissing others.

The companies have denied wrongdoing, saying they have taken steps to keep young users safe on the platforms.

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Zuckerberg escapes personal liability in social media addiction suits