Does Social Media Do More Harm Than Good?

Does Social Media Do More Harm Than Good?

  • The Fee Is Free Unless You Win®.
  • America's Largest Injury Law Firm™
  • Protecting Families Since 1988
  • 20 Billion+ Won
  • 1,000+ Lawyers Nationwide

Free Case Evaluation

Tell us about your situation so we can get started fighting for you. We tailor each case to meet our clients' needs.
Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.
Our results speak for themselves

The attorneys featured above are licensed in Florida. For a full list of attorneys in your state please visit our attorney page.

Does Social Media Do More Harm Than Good?

Smartphone technology has enhanced the lives of most people who own these devices. You can look up information almost instantaneously, order products from websites to be delivered to your door, and keep in close contact with friends, colleagues, and family. However, tech addiction, particularly apps designed for prolonged usage, has been found to have adverse effects on mental health, including loss of empathy, depression, anxiety, and loss of cognitive functions.  

Social media is specifically designed to be addictive, and unfortunately, adolescents are most at risk. Still, people of any age can fall prey because of the brain's reward system, which releases a surge of dopamine when we get clicks, likes, comments, subscribers, double taps, and shares. Experts compare it to the rush gamblers or drug users have when they get their "fix."

While media has always had an influence, in the past, you would generally only be exposed to it minimally and when you took specific actions to consume it, like sitting down for the nightly news on TV or reading the morning paper. However, since the development of social media, we now have constant notifications for everything. It's no wonder to ask, "Does social media do more harm than good?" Morgan and Morgan will address these issues, the legal implications of addiction by design, and all the harm that follows.

Scroll down for more

Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

Morgan & Morgan

  • What Is an Example of Addictive Design?

    Developers of social media platforms are in business to make money. The likelihood of making money increases when users spend more time on these platforms, so developers design how content is fed based on users' "interests." These models are called algorithms, and whether you know it or not, you're targeted the moment you log on. The more content available to consume that is geared to match previous interactions can easily lead a user down a rabbit hole.

    Not only do social media platforms evaluate what you like, share, and comment on, but they also use this data to sell to other parties, such as advertisers. That's why when you click on an article about planning a birthday party, suddenly, your feed is flooded with birthday party supply ads and related articles. You may have intended to read a quick article for some ideas to use later. Still, now you've spent three hours endlessly scrolling and liking without even realizing it.

    Algorithms manipulate what shows up in your feed with the purpose of keeping you on the platform. But interactive controls such as the like button and the ability to add emojis, GIFs, and comments are part of the addictive design. Most people are either elated or disappointed by the interactions they get from others when they post on social media.

    However, serious problems can arise when we depend on affirmation and confirmation from online communities. It's not unusual to keep checking a post to see how many people approve of your latest selfie, which indicates addiction.

    When you're feeling low and longing for approval, a small number of likes or even disparaging comments can hit particularly hard. In fact, leaked information from Facebook's internal studies revealed that teen girls are most at risk of being harmed by negative social media interactions. However, they minimized this information. We'll cover more concerning this further on.

    Another aspect of addiction by design you may not have recognized is the infinite scrolling function. There is no "page 2" or "next" button on many social media platforms. Instead, you can scroll mindlessly through posts and videos that autoplay, which has been dubbed "doomscrolling."

    Because content is created and posted at a ferocious pace, social media platforms have had difficulty moderating content that can be harmful. However, until stronger laws are in place to protect users' privacy and data, it's unlikely they'll be able to get ahead of content creators that use this easy access to manipulate and abuse. Sure, there are consequences for data breaches, but even so, what consequences should social media developers have for willfully designing user interfaces that are addictive, manipulative, and damaging?

    While everyone wants control of what they post online, social media users must realize that until they have control over their data and can choose what content they are fed, they're not safe from succumbing to the effects of harmful content and suffering from social media addiction.

    Some might argue that responsibility falls on the user since we're given limited ways to restrict our data availability, and people are responsible for their own actions. However, if social media is addictive by design, and social media developers suppress information about the adverse effects their product can have, how is it any different from cigarette manufacturers who insist the customer is responsible for their own addiction and all the afflictions that go along with it? Addiction, by definition, is a compulsive need and use of habit-forming "stuff" that is difficult to overcome on your own.

    The real issue is that social media is addictive by design and exploits user data for monetary benefit. Similarly, the tobacco industry made cigarettes more addictive by engineering their products to contain more nicotine and using science to find ways to deliver nicotine to brain receptors faster.  

    Morgan and Morgan are veterans of fighting mega companies like RJ Reynolds and Phillip Morris. Sadly, these companies used marketing and advertising to promote cigarette smoking as glamorous and sophisticated while omitting the serious health problems linked to cigarette use revealed in their own internal studies, much like the Facebook leak mentioned earlier.

    Lawyers at Morgan and Morgan have helped victims of big tobacco recover $90.8 million in 2010, $6.4 million in 2016, and $13.5 million in 2018. If you or a loved one have been harmed by social media, we urge you to contact Morgan and Morgan to discuss your legal options.

  • Does Social Media Cause Depression and Anxiety?

    While people of any age can suffer consequences of social media use, when asking, "Does social media do more harm than good?" society often looks at the effects on young users. Evidence is growing that links social media use in teenagers and young adults to depression. The scientific community has uncovered a correlation between depression and social media use in youths, but not direct causation. That is to date. Scientific research will likely find causation in the future.

    However, the rise in reported depression, along with the rise in smartphone access, seems to transcend coincidence. From 2010 to 2015, depression in 8th through 12 graders rose 33 percent. Concurrently, the suicide rate for girls in the same demographic jumped up by 65 percent. By 2015, about 92 percent of teens and young adults owned or had access to smartphones. Likewise, visits to college and university counseling service providers rose by 30 percent. The numbers have continued to grow since Covid.

    While social media may have proved highly valuable in maintaining relationships during the pandemic, electronic connections are less emotionally satisfying than in-person contact. A big problem with social media addiction is the fear of missing out and loss of self-esteem. Young people are particularly influenced by what they see others post. For example, suppose they see pictures of people leading lavish lifestyles or posts of people they don't even know that have been artificially manipulated to unachievable perfection. In that case, it can be detrimental to their self-confidence.

    While social media platforms can't be held responsible for people posting content that isn't based on reality, they can control how addictive they make user interfaces and should not have the ability to exploit the user data of minors.  

    Facebook owns Instagram and kept research to study the impact of Instagram on young users a secret. Likely because this research revealed the use of the app was harmful to the state of mind of young users, particularly teenage girls. The Wall Street Journal learned that Instagram was aware they "made body images worse for one in three teen girls" in 2019. In March 2020, another internal presentation showed, "Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse." Yet another presentation showed "teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression."

    Still, even though executives at Facebook were aware their app was causing severe mental health issues in teens and young adults, they chose to give little weight to the evidence. Given the callous disregard and exploitation for profit that runs rampant in these boardrooms, it's likely that the only thing that will transform attitudes is a harsh smackdown through the legal system. Losing a multi-million dollar case could be the solution that impacts change within these ruthless companies.

    Even so, it's no surprise that Mark Zuckerberg, in particular, would pay little heed to how social media would impact the self-esteem of others, considering an early iteration of Facebook was used as a "hot or not" game for fellow Harvard students. The early website permitted users to compare two pictures of students and decide who was the best looking. 

  • Does Social Media Empower or Exploit?

    There is no arguing that social media has allowed friendships to thrive, which otherwise may have dwindled because of distance and time constraints. Likewise, it broadens the sphere of social interactions and learning beyond what might have been available before social media, like joining or following groups or people. However, recommendations on social media designed to hold the user's attention regardless of the costs are especially troublesome.

    For instance, a Facebook whistleblower provided evidence that the social media platform intentionally changed its algorithm to fixate on "engagement-based" ranking, which ended up promoting hateful and divisive content. Frances Haugen worked for some of the largest social media companies in the world for 15 years, ending with Facebook, and saw specific quotes from political advertisers that noted if they don't create controversial content, Facebook's algorithm doesn't reward them with views. However, presumably nothing was done to address these concerns, so we've seen an explosion of hate speech that has proliferated on Facebook.

    While the company maintains they internally monitor and try to protect people from harmful material, the whistleblower says they don't have nearly enough people assigned to these jobs and use their own handpicked reporting metrics to minimize the concerning situation. It's hard to swallow the story that Facebook is concerned about hate speech and divisiveness on its platform when it creates and controls the algorithm that perpetuates it.

    The question is, should social media platforms be held accountable for harm inflicted on users? For example, should the parents of a teen girl who commits suicide because she was fed videos about self-harm based on an algorithm be able to sue for personal injury? Should victims of mass shooters that were fed content promoting bigotry and intolerance be able to bring a lawsuit against the content creators and the site that hosted the content? Likewise, should police officers that were hurt when a president incited followers to violence over an alleged stolen election be able to hold social media platforms liable for allowing the message to be amplified? These are important questions, and we'll likely be involved and see how the court system handles these kinds of cases in the near future.

  • Contact Morgan and Morgan Concerning Personal Injury and Social Media

    Does social media do more harm than good? If you find yourself asking, then you may have experienced some of the aforementioned situations on social media that have had a negative impact on your life. If that’s the case, Morgan and Morgan are here to help. From our experience of operating a law firm for more than 35 years, we understand that powerful companies try to get away with negligent and even egregious behavior. However, you may have legal options to bring them down. Get in touch with us today for a free case evaluation. If we can take on big tobacco, powerful utility companies, and even the airlines, we're not afraid to tackle social media titans either.

Scroll down for more Load More

How it works

It's easy to get started.
The Fee Is Free Unless You Win®.

Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.

  • Step 1

    your claim

    With a free case evaluation, submitting your case is easy with Morgan & Morgan.

  • Step 2

    We take

    Our dedicated team gets to work investigating your claim.

  • Step 3

    We fight
    for you

    If we take on the case, our team fights to get you the results you deserve.



Customer Story

“I was in a difficult situation when I was injured by a faulty product. I was hesitant to seek legal help but with the help of Morgan & Morgan, they made the process easy. They took immediate action and got me the compensation I deserved. I couldn't have done it without them. I highly recommend their services.” Estate of Patricia Allen v. RJ Reynolds, et al. | 2014

Client success
stories that inspire and drive change

Explore over 55,000 5-star reviews and 800 client testimonials to discover why people trust Morgan & Morgan.

Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances. Based on Select nationwide reviews

  • Video thumbnail for 5l3q2e67j8
    Wistia video play button
  • Video thumbnail for yfe952tcop
    Wistia video play button
  • Video thumbnail for z1bqwg9hkl
    Wistia video play button
  • Video thumbnail for s5nb3hnvkv
    Wistia video play button
  • Video thumbnail for t4elibxene
    Wistia video play button
  • Video thumbnail for 5nr9efxqj3
    Wistia video play button
  • Video thumbnail for e8s1x6u5jp
    Wistia video play button