The Seattle city school district filed a novel lawsuit blaming Big Tech for poisoning youth with social media addiction, while students are suffering from anxiety, depression and other psychological troubles.
According to the complaint, the owner of TikTok is responsible for hooking young people on their platforms and creating a mental health crisis. There are more than 100 schools in the district.
Social media lawsuits pile up when the scrolling doesn't stop.
The suit appears to be the first of its kind in the US and follows similar claims filed last year by scores of families.
The idea of social media companies shouldering responsibility for the damage their products do to young people came to the fore late in 2021. The company was accused of preying on vulnerable young people to increase profits. State attorneys general started investigations.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act gives internet platforms immunity from lawsuits over harmful content posted by users. The law has been used to shield them from legal claims that have been called for reform.
There was no immediate response from the company. Representatives of the companies didn't respond to requests for comment.
The New York City public school system, the largest in the US, banned its students from using the artificial intelligence program to generate text this week.
Fears about safety and accuracy prompted the ban.
The Seattle School District wants a judge to find that the companies have created a public nuisance and to order them to stop using social media.
According to the district, there has been an increase in suicides and emergency room mental health visits. President Joe Biden urged all to hold social media platforms accountable for the national experiment they are conducting on our children.
The complaint states that the action was brought by the Seattle School District. The same mental health crisis is being experienced by youth in the community.
The companies have previously said they are working to protect their youngest users, including by offering resources on mental health topics.
The case is in the US district court in Seattle.