The family of a 14-year-old who committed suicide is suing Meta after they found a simulated hanging video from Instagram on their daughter’s phone following her death.
According to CBS News, one night in August 2020, Toney and Brandy Roberts put their 14-year-old daughter Englyn Roberts to bed. A few hours later, Brandy got a text from a parent of one of Englyn friends who was concerned for Englyn and asked her mother to check on her. When Toney and Brandy came across Englyn’s room it was locked and they began to worry. They quickly retrieved the key, opened the door, and found their daughter had committed suicide.
“When you find your child hanging, and you are in that moment in disbelief, just no way,” Toney told CBS News. “Not our baby. Not our child. Ultimately, I fault myself.”
Her parents also said they did not know their daughter was depressed. After her death, they began to make sense of the tragedy by digging through their daughter’s phone and that is when they found an Instagram post that was sent to Englyn.
“There was a video,” Toney told CBS News. “And that video was a lady on Instagram pretending to hang herself, and that’s ultimately what our child did. You ask yourself, how did she come up with this idea? And then when I did the research, there it was. She saw it on Instagram. It was on her phone.”
According to the Roberts family, the video continued to circulate through Instagram until it was taken down in December 2021, more than a year after Englyn’s death.
“If they, so-call, monitor and do things, how could it stay on that site?” Toney asked. “Part of their policies says they don’t allow for self-harm photos, videos, things of that nature. So who’s holding them accountable?”
There is a growing trend of lawsuits against social media companies from families who allege the platforms have negatively impacted their children’s mental health.
According to CBS News, more than 1,200 families pursuing lawsuits against social media companies including TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, Roblox and Meta. CBS also reported that more than 150 lawsuits will be moving for in 2023.
There is no question that harmful content is readily available on social media, but should companies be responsible for the mental health of children who use their apps? I guess these lawsuits will find out.
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