An OPINION by Attorney and Physician Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D.

We all know that tobacco, vaping, and certain recreational drugs are addictive to children and teenagers. We have always known that fact. Let’s focus in on the tobacco companies (“Big Tobacco”) and the lawsuits against them. When diseased smokers started suing tobacco companies, many people thought there was no basis. Smokers knew, or should have known, that tobacco was unhealthy and accepted that risk. How could they sue with a straight face? What we did not know, at first, was that cigarettes were not only made of tobacco plants grown in green open fields and carefully rolled into cylinders and then packed into colorful cartons. Big Tobacco had been secretly adding many chemicals to the tobacco with the sole purpose of making cigarettes addictive. Big Tobacco had some of the best scientists design these chemicals for maximum addiction, and they were extremely successful. The smokers had no idea what they were actually smoking, and that is why the lawsuits should have been, and were, successful.

Now, let’s look at social media, and specifically at how children and teenagers use Facebook and Instagram (“META”). META is not what it appears to be at first glance nor what it publicly claims to be – just a big bulletin board for people to use to post their opinion, comments, thoughts, and cat pictures. META has made more money than you can imagine by keeping users glued to their cellphones, computer screens, and other electronic devices. META knows exactly how to keep your eyes glued to its sites. While some people may claim adults should know better than to spend countless hours wasting time online, many children and teenagers do not. Do you remember when you were that age? How you wanted so badly to fit in? How you wanted others to like you? Complement you? How you wanted to look a certain way (thin, fit, pretty, handsome, cool)? How hurtful insults about your appearance were? Now imagine that you have the ability to get “likes” from thousands of others. Those “likes” cause the release of chemicals in the brain that create a pleasurable feeling (much like some drugs, actually). The rush of getting hundreds or even thousands of likes and complements, even from strangers, is quite addictive. Likewise, insults and negative comments will cause depression, anxiety, and feelings of worthlessness.

I believe that META not only knows all of the above but takes full advantage of it. META has the ability to hire the best computer programmers and psychiatric specialists to create the most addictive environment possible for its child and teen users. META uses powerful algorithms to addict children and teens to social media. They are so good at this that they can control what these young users (notice the same word is applied to drugs… “users”) do online, what buttons they click, which sites they visit, who they follow (influencers) and, of course, what they buy.

Some people may believe that no one should care what sites children and teens visit or what clothes they buy. We have always had advertisers creating fads and selling the latest fashions. That is not what I am addressing. I am addressing the consequences of creating a fully controlled environment where the emotions, feelings, and the self-esteem of children and teenagers are molded solely for profit. There are children and teenagers, fortunately not most, that get severely depressed and anxious when they do not get the likes they need, or even worse, get insulted and bullied by thousands of strangers. These victims (yes, that is exactly what they are) get so anguished that they will cut themselves, do other acts of self-harm, and even commit suicide. Others try desperately to lose weight (anorexia and bulemia) or take selfies of themselves doing dangerous things just for the attention. I believe that META knows all of these possible outcomes but nonetheless continues its pursuit of profit.

So, yes, I believe that lawsuits against META are righteous and necessary to hold it accountable for what it is doing. I’ve recently teamed up with a nationally recognized law firm to represent META’S victims. My two attorney firm is not the type to take on META by itself. As part of this team, I can help children, teens, and families who have been harmed by META.

If you or someone you know lives in California and has a child or teen that has become addicted to Facebook or Instagram, has attempted or committed suicide, committed acts of self-harm, developed eating disorders, or suffers from anxiety, depression, or insomnia, as a result of that addiction, please give me a call to see if I can help get you financially compensated.

When You Need a LAWYER, Call the DOCTOR. Call Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D.


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