CA parents sue Meta over teenage daughter taking her life after watching hanging video

Englyn Roberts, 14, died by suicide after watching a hanging simulation video on Instagram

This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

The parents of a California teenager who died by suicide spoke out this week about their lawsuit against the social media platform Meta, which they say played a role in their daughter’s death.

"We went upstairs, and we checked, and her door was locked," Toney Roberts told "60 Minutes" correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi about the night in August 2020 he went to check on his 14-year-old daughter, Englyn Roberts, after receiving a text from a parent of one of Englyn's friends expressing concern and suggesting they check on her.

"That was odd, so I took the key from the top and we opened the door and no Englyn. And when I turned around that's when I found her," Roberts said. "When you find your child hanging, and you are in that moment in disbelief, just no way. Not our baby. Not our child. Ultimately, I fault myself."

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Apps on a smartphone are seen in this file photo.

Apps on a smartphone are seen in this file photo. (Muhammed Selim Korkutata/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Toney and his wife Brandy didn’t know that their daughter had been writing online about her struggle with mental health as coronavirus lockdowns dragged on in 2020. Ultimately, after her death they looked for answers on her phone and found an Instagram post sent to her by a friend that simulated a hanging. 

"There was a video," Toney explained. "And that video was a lady on Instagram pretending to hang herself, and that's ultimately what our child did. You ask yourself, ‘How did she come up with this idea?’ And then when I did the research, there it was. She saw it on Instagram. It was on her phone."

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Meta Headquarters n Menlo Park, California.

Meta Headquarters n Menlo Park, California. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Englyn’s parents say the video was still circulating on Instagram with around 1,500 views a year and a half after her death before being taken down in December 2021. The family has sued Meta, Instagram's parent company

"If that video wasn't sent to her, because she copied it, she wouldn't have had a way of knowing how to do that certain way of hanging yourself," Brandy Roberts told "60 Minutes."

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The Instagram application is seen on a phone screen.

The Instagram application is seen on a phone screen. (Reuters/Thomas White)

Antigone Davis, Meta’s global head of safety, told "60 Minutes" that "we want teens to be safe online" and that the company has improved its "age verification technology." Davis added that the company does not "allow content promoting self-harm or eating disorders." 

"60 Minutes" reported that one of their producers ran a test two months ago and was able to sign up as a 13-year-old without verification and also able to search for and find content promoting anorexia and self harm. 

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Meta did not respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital by time of publication.

According to "60 Minutes," more than 1,200 families are currently pursuing legal action against social media companies like TikTok, Snapchat and Meta.