Switch to ADA Accessible Theme Close Menu
Florida Injury Attorney

Product Liability Lawsuit Filed Against Social Media Companies Over Mass Shooting At Buffalo Supermarket


Social media companies like Facebook enjoy broad immunity when it comes to lawsuits. Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act prevents social media companies from being held liable for the content of third parties. This means that social media companies cannot be sued over the content of advertisers or users in most cases. While there have been challenges to the law, the courts have mostly upheld Section 230 and dismissed lawsuits filed by plaintiffs who alleged that third parties caused personal injury to users.

However, two recent decisions could change that. In California, a judge decided that Snapchat must face a lawsuit alleging that their platform is being used by fentanyl dealers to place fentanyl in the hands of teenagers. There have been at least three overdose deaths related to teenagers procuring fentanyl off of Snapchat. Drug dealers use the platform because Snapchat deletes messages and posts after 24 hours making it more difficult for law enforcement to trace and investigate.

Another recent decision in New York could challenge social media companies’ immunity under Section 230. Named as defendants in the suit are Meta (Facebook), Snap, Inc. (Snapchat), Alphabet, Reddit, and Amazon. In this case, a judge presiding over the case ruled that it was premature to dismiss the plaintiffs’ causes of action. The lawsuit has been filed by victims of a mass shooting that occurred in a Buffalo supermarket in 2022. In that case, the shooter targeted Black customers killing several and wounding others. The judge ruled that the social media companies should face product liability claims based on the allegedly “addictive and dangerously defective design” of their platforms. The plaintiffs are accusing the social media companies of “radicalizing” the shooter to commit white supremacist murders.

Product liability lawsuits and social media companies 

Since Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act prevents social media companies from being sued over third-party content, plaintiffs have had to be creative in their filings against the companies. Plaintiffs have argued that platforms like Facebook are dangerous and defective products in and of themselves and facilitate illegal and injurious conduct.

This is the first case of a social media company being sued over a mass shooting. However, plaintiffs have filed several lawsuits against social media companies alleging that the companies contribute to teen suicide, human trafficking, genocide (in foreign countries), and more. In California, a federal judge has allowed a lawsuit to proceed blaming social media companies for causing mental health harm to teenage users.

In Pennsylvania, a court will consider whether TikTok should be held liable for the death of a teenage girl who died after participating in a Blackout Challenge.

Talk to a Florida Product Liability Attorney Today 

Halpern, Santos & Pinkert represents the interests of Florida residents who have been injured by dangerous or defective products. Call our Florida personal injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation, and we can begin preparing your case right away.




Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

© 2019 - 2024 Halpern, Santos & Pinkert, P.A. Attorneys at Law. All rights reserved.