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Seattle schools sue TikTok, Meta over mental health concerns

Even Google finds itself in the crosshairs of this complaint.

tik tok and other social apps on a phone screen
Image: Unsplash

The Seattle Public School system has filed a lawsuit against social media giants, including TikTok and Facebook, claiming that the platforms are a “substantial factor in causing a youth mental health crisis.”

The school system filed its 91-page lawsuit in district courts in Washington state late last week. The schools allege that several tech companies violated the state’s public nuisance law.

The plaintiffs don’t seem to have a particular company or platform in mind for their complaint. The lawsuit includes YouTube, Facebook, and TikTok, as well as their parent companies, Google, Meta, and ByteDance.

“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,” reads an excerpt from the complaint.

Interestingly, the school system isn’t claiming that these platforms should be responsible for what’s posted by third parties.

Instead, the plaintiffs claim that these platforms “affirmatively recommend and promote harmful content to youth.”

The effect of social platforms on the youth has been a major question in recent years. TikTok is seemingly under constant investigation over its effect on children and the same goes for Meta.

Additionally, YouTube was called out a few months ago for suggesting drug and gun videos on the specific YouTube Kids app.

This lawsuit will likely drag on for a while without a decision. However, continued pressure like this may require tech companies to revisit how they handle children on their platforms.

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