Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg Seeks to Dismiss Personal Liability in Lawsuits Blaming Him for Kids' Social Media Addiction

By Giuliano De Leon

Feb 24, 2024 04:38 AM EST

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is seeking to dismiss personal liability in two dozen lawsuits accusing Instagram and other social media companies of Meta of addicting children to these platforms. 

In a hearing in California federal court on Friday, Zuckerberg's lawyers made the case to dismiss any litigation against the tech billionaire, but the judge did not immediately make a decision.

(Photo : ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, testifies during the US Senate Judiciary Committee hearing "Big Tech and the Online Child Sexual Exploitation Crisis" in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2024.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg Wants to Dismiss Lawsuits Targeting Him Personally

According to The Straits Times, holding Mark Zuckerberg personally responsible could be challenging since a corporate law tradition shields executives from liability, especially at bigger firms where decision-making is often layered.

The Meta CEO faces allegations from parents and young individuals that he was repeatedly warned that Instagram and Facebook were unsafe for children. However, he ignored the findings and decided not to share them publicly. 

Instagram and Facebook are both under fire for failing to protect children from harmful online content. The New York Post reported that these include scams that trick young users into sending explicit images/videos and then threatening to publish them unless they pay.

However, Zuckerberg has publicly asserted that his platforms are safe despite multiple lawsuits accusing Meta of prioritizing profits before the safety of children who were exposed to sex predators and disturbing content.

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Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg Says He Can't be Held Liable Just Because He's the Boss

Mark Zuckerberg has argued that he cannot be held responsible for actions at Meta just because he is the boss. His lawyers further noted that Zuckerberg did not have a duty to disclose the safety findings that were allegedly reported to him.

In a statement, a Meta spokesperson said: "There is ample legal precedent establishing that being an executive does not confer liability for alleged conduct of a corporation," adding that the claims against the Meta CEO should be dismissed entirely, Bloomberg reported.

At the hearing, the plaintiffs said that Zuckerberg had a responsibility to the users of Facebook and Instagram to disclose safety information.

US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, who is overseeing the federal cases, then asked lawyers on both sides to clarify how laws covering negligent misrepresentation and corporate officer responsibility, which vary among states, apply to Zuckerberg.

Meta, Alphabet's Google, ByteDance's TikTok, and Snap are facing more than 1,000 suits in state and federal courts filed by families and public school districts for designing and marketing addictive products that negatively affect children's mental health, and the cases naming Zuckerberg are a small subset of this collection of lawsuits.

Social media firms have also come under increased scrutiny for their role in spreading sexually explicit content. 

Related Article: Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg to Receive $700 Million a Year From the Company's New Dividend

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