At eleven, Alexis S. secretly set up an Instagram account. The platform quickly became an addiction, dragging the girl into anorexia. Now her parents are suing the operator.

Today Alexis S. is 19 years old – and she is fine. It wasn’t always like that, on the contrary: Alexis’ mother says: “It’s a miracle that she’s still with us today.” Because the young woman has had many tough years in which she had to struggle with anorexia, self-harm and Instagram addiction. Her parents, who supported her all the time and always did everything possible to give her the help she needed, agree: Meta, the group that owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, is to blame for her daughter’s suffering.

Because Alexis’ problems began when she secretly set up an Instagram account. At that time she was only eleven years old, and therefore actually too young to do it legally – Instagram only allows participation from the age of 13. Apparently, this was not checked by the group. And from her parents, the girl kept secret that she had created a profile. In fact, she only did it to follow an online gaming account on Instagram that was very popular with her and her friends. But the platform quickly became an addiction for her.

The girl secretly opened an Instagram account

And not only that: the eleven-year-old was shown a lot of postings and photos on the topics of anorexia, slimness and weight loss. “When I’m 11 years old, what am I supposed to do but keep watching this content? And if you’re being shown every day, ‘That’s the only way you’re pretty’, ‘This is how you’re supposed to look like’, what should I think ? I was just a kid!”, The now 19-year-old explains to “Good Morning America”. What she saw quickly affected her psyche. Alexis slipped into anorexia and started hurting himself.

Her parents didn’t understand at first what had happened. “All we saw was that our daughter seemed to be disappearing. Slowly, little by little, we lost our confident, loving child and she became depressed, irritable and withdrawn,” says her mother. Alexis was then treated for several years, doing therapies. Today she is fine again, but in the meantime her parents seriously feared for her life, they say. It took them quite a while to realize that their daughter’s problems had started with Instagram, and the platform kept fueling them.

Her parents feared for Alexis’ life

When the so-called “Facebook Papers” became public in 2021, research into the business practices of the parent company Meta, Alexis’ mother read the results with interest. And discovered a lot of things that made them angry – it seemed that numerous decision makers on Instagram were aware of the impact certain content had on the souls of young users. But they didn’t do anything about it because it was that content that kept the audience engaged. The mother is certain: “We did everything we could. But the cell phone and social media were always there and nothing could beat them.”

Meta vehemently denies the allegations. Nevertheless, the group is now being sued by the family – among other things because of “harmful design, negligence and unnecessarily dangerous applications” within the Instagram app. Meta should change its algorithm so that it no longer shows potentially dangerous content to young users. The family is also demanding financial compensation for the medical expenses they had to bear for Alexis’ therapies.

Quelle: “Good Morning America”