Lawsuit Targets Social Media Giants for Causing Students’ Failing Mental Health
Seattle Public Schools, with more than 49,000 students and 106 schools, is the largest K-12 school system in Washington state. District officials there decided to take action over the “mind-bending” they say social media is doing to their students via psychological tactics. All of the platforms are targeted in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit against TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and their parent companies alleges that the social media giants have “successfully exploited the vulnerable brains of youth” for their own profit, which has led to a mental health crisis in schools.
The suit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Seattle, seeks “the maximum statutory and civil penalties permitted by law,” making the case that the companies have violated Washington state’s public nuisance law.
Hundreds of families are pursuing similar cases against the companies, following revelations about the tactics used by Facebook, Instagram, and others to boost engagement among children and teenagers. Using surveys, the district plans to show how social media has negatively impacted their children’s mental stability and has caused depression. Seattle is the first school district to bring such a lawsuit.
“This mental health crisis is no accident,” the suit says. “It is the result of the Defendants’ deliberate choices and affirmative actions to design and market their social media platforms to attract youth.”
At more than 90 pages, the suit offers extensive citations in support of its claims, including surveys showing a 30% increase from 2009 to 2019 in the number of Seattle Public Schools students who said they felt “so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more in a row that [they] stopped doing some usual activities.”
This isn’t the first legal action the school district has taken on behalf of its students. Here are some other legal efforts they are involved with:
- SPS in 2019 was among thousands of organizations and institutions that filed lawsuits against JUUL Labs over its marketing of e-cigarettes to youth. The company announced a global settlement of those cases last month.
- The district also filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Gonzalez v. Google, in which the family of an American citizen killed in an ISIS attack seeks to hold YouTube liable for allowing the group to spread its message.
Currently, under consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Gonzalez case will test whether Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act should shield social platforms from legal liability for content posted by others.
Geekwire.com has posted the actual 90-page lawsuit in this article about the Seattle Public School Districts fight. It’s an interesting read. Seeflection.com will continue to follow this story and provide updates on the outcome of this lawsuit.
read more at geekwire.com