Seattle public school district files suit against tech giants for fueling teen ... trends now
Seattle's largest public school district has filed a groundbreaking lawsuit against the Big Tech companies that run TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat that seeks to hold them accountable for exacerbating the teen mental health crisis.
On Friday, Seattle Public Schools filed a 91-page complaint with the US District Court alleging that the social media companies target detrimental products to children.
The suit blames the Big Tech giants for aggravating the mental health and behavioral crisis seen in high school-aged teens that includes depression, anxiety, disordered eating and cyberbullying.
The suit also alleges that those issues make it more difficult to educate students and have forced schools to hire additional mental health counselors and spend time and resources developing lessons plans around the negative impacts of social media.
Seattle's largest public school district filed a landmark suit in US District court on Friday, alleging that social media companies are responsible for the decline in mental health of the US teenage population
This is some of the research Facebook was shown last year about how Instagram is harming young people
The complaint argues: 'Defendants have successfully exploited the vulnerable brains of youth, hooking tens of millions of students across the country into positive feedback loops of excessive use and abuse of Defendants' social media platforms.'
'Worse, the content Defendants curate and direct to youth is too often harmful and exploitive,' it continues.
'Plaintiff is not alleging Defendants are liable for what third-parties have said on Defendants' platforms but, rather, for Defendants' own conduct,' rather, 'defendants affirmatively recommend and promote harmful content to youth, such as pro-anorexia and eating disorder content.'
The suit offers a number of statistics that contribute to the argument, including that more than 16million of TikTok's daily users are under the age of 14. It delves into the argument that social media companies intentionally market to younger users to ensure they continue to use the product as they age.
The school district is being represented by Keller Rohrback, a Seattle-based firm that regularly litigates against some of the country's most prominent corporate defendants on behalf of school districts and local governments.
Felicia Craick, an attorney for the firm, pointed at increased social media usage as a leading cause among suicide attempts and mental-health ER visits.
'The increase in suicides, attempted suicides, and mental-health ER visits is no coincidence. As alleged in the complaint, this crisis was already growing before the pandemic and research has identified social media as playing a major role in causing mental health problems in youth,' she said.
On Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, Seattle Public Schools filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court, suing the tech giants behind TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat, seeking to hold them accountable for the mental health crisis among youth
The 90+ page suit alleges alleges that social media companies target youthful consumers in order to keep them coming back to their products as they age
The suit claims that between 2009-2019, 30 percent of SPS students reported feeling sad or hopeless almost every day for more than two weeks
Dr. Brent Jones, the superintendent of Seattle Public Schools said he is confident the suit will be a 'step forward' in reversing the mental health crisis his students