US school sues YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat for 'monetising misery'
San Francisco, March 20
A US-based school has filed a lawsuit against YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat, alleging they are purposefully designed to be addictive, having "carefully cultivated" a mental health crisis among students.
In the lawsuit, the San Mateo County School Superintendent and School Board also claim that the tech companies engaged in activities such as negligence, racketeering, public nuisance, and unfair competition law violations, reports Fox News.
"Powerful corporations who wield unmatched, highly concentrated technology in pursuit of profit are knowingly creating this unprecedented mental health crisis," the lawsuit states.
"YouTube, Snap, TikTok and their related companies have carefully cultivated the crisis, which is a feature -- not a bug -- of their social media products," it added.
Moreover, the report said that the social media platforms in defence argued that they have tools in place to protect children.
"We have an external group of child development experts that help advise us on how to build age-appropriate experience and protect kids on YouTube," a Google spokesperson, was quoted as saying.
TikTok, on the other hand, declined to comment on the lawsuit, though a spokesperson stated that the company "prioritises the safety and well-being of teens", according to the report.
Further, a Snap spokesperson added that, while the app is primarily used for messaging, the company works "closely with leading mental health organisations to provide in-app tools for Snapchatters and resources to help support both themselves and their friends".
The report further mentioned that the suit claims that the social media giants' algorithms intentionally deliver harmful content to youth, leaving school staff to address the issues caused by the platforms.
"No one gets off the hook for the health and well-being of our young people. And when we try to work with social media companies to remove content that could be directly harming a child, it's very difficult," San Mateo Superintendent of Schools Nancy Magee, was quoted as saying.
In the lawsuit, the tech companies are asking for the court to declare their actions as a public nuisance and prevent them from continuing to act in this way.
It also demands that defendants pay damages and contribute to a public education fund.