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New York City to Join Lawsuit Against Social Media Companies

City officials have announced that they will join a California lawsuit against major social media companies over what Mayor Eric Adams is calling a “mental health crisis” facing young people.

(TNS) — City officials announced Wednesday that they'd join ongoing legal action against social media companies over what Mayor Eric Adams described as a "mental health crisis."

TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube are defendants in the lawsuit brought in California state court. Adams said Wednesday that the case is part of broader efforts to hold the companies accountable.

"Over the past decade, we have seen just how addictive and overwhelming the online world can be, exposing our children to a non-stop stream of harmful content and fueling our national youth mental health crisis," Adams said. "Our city is built on innovation and technology, but many social media platforms end up endangering our children's mental health, promoting addiction, and encouraging unsafe behavior. Today, we're taking bold action on behalf of millions of New Yorkers to hold these companies accountable for their role in this crisis, and we're building on our work to address this public health hazard."

The city's lawsuit argues that the companies' negligence has fueled the youth mental health crisis, which city lawyers say is a public nuisance that the city has had to spend upwards of $100 million to address.

City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan announced earlier this year that social media would be declared a public health threat because of its impact on mental health.

A variety of states and localities around the nation have launched pushes against social media, including Florida lawmakers' efforts to impose age verification requirements that would limit young people's access to social media.

Locally, the city also announced it would launch a new framework on how to hold social media companies accountable while also advocating for laws at the state level that help improve New Yorkers' social media experiences.

"Social media is a toxin in our digital environment, like lead, air pollution, and nicotine are in our physical one," Vasan said. "Environmental toxins require regulation, control, and mitigation, and public health must build on its environmental health legacy to address this modern threat. New York City is employing a wide array of tools to fight back, including education and awareness, research, and regulation, and this lawsuit is the latest example of our city's commitment to ensure young people are safe from the impacts of social media on mental health and wellbeing. The laissez-faire days for tech giants must end and expecting them to self-regulate is naïve. As a parent and as the city's doctor, to protect the public's health, we will not remain idle while these platforms damage the health of our children."

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