February 4, 2023


Seattle: The Seattle public school district has filed a novel lawsuit against the tech giants behind TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat, seeking to hold them accountable for the mental health crisis among youth.

Seattle Public Schools filed the lawsuit in US District Court. The 91-page complaint says social media companies have created a public outrage by targeting their products at children.

The TikTok social network is very popular among teenagers and younger children. Credit: E+

He blames them for worsening mental health and behavioral disorders, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders and cyberbullying, making it harder for students to educate and forcing schools to take action, like hiring more education professionals. mental health, develop lesson plans on the effects of social media. the media and provide additional training for teachers.

“The defendants have successfully exploited the vulnerable brains of young people, hooking tens of millions of students across the country into positive feedback loops of overuse and abuse of the defendants’ social media platforms,” ​​the defendants said. complaint. “Worse yet, the content Defendants curate and target youth is often harmful and exploitative…”

Meta, Google, Snap and TikTok did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

While federal law, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, helps protect online businesses from liability for what outside users post to their platforms, the lawsuit argues that the provision does not protect the behavior of the tech giants in this case.

Charging

“Plaintiff is not alleging that Defendants are responsible for what third parties have said on Defendants’ platforms, but rather for Defendants’ own conduct,” the lawsuit says. “Defendants affirmatively recommend and promote content harmful to youth, such as pro-anorexia and eating disorder content.”

See also  This dangerous botnet might have been taken down by a simple typo

The lawsuit says that, from 2009 to 2019, there was an average 30 percent increase in the number of Seattle Public Schools students who reported feeling “so sad or hopeless nearly every day for two weeks in a row or more” that they stopped to do some typical activities.