It has been reported that hundreds of US families are unhappy with social media giants like Snapchat, YouTube, TikTok and Meta (parent company of Facebook and Instagram). As per the report, the families think that the tech companies are “big, bad monsters”.
As per the BBC report, the plaintiffs further include ordinary families and school districts from across the US. It was Taylor Little, aged 21 who was quoted as saying in the report that came out on Monday
She said, “I literally was trapped by addiction at age 12. And I did not get my life back for all of my teenage years.”
Taylor’s social media addiction led her to a number of suicide attempts and years of depression.
She was quoted saying, “If I had my phone taken away, it felt like having withdrawals. It was unbearable. Literally, when I say it was addictive, I don’t mean it was habit-forming. I mean, my body and mind craved that.”
Taylor also struggled with content around eating disorders and body image.
It was Taylor and hundreds of other American families who are suing four of the biggest social media companies including:
- Meta (parent company of Facebook and Instagram)
- TikTok (short format video sharing platform)
- Google search engine
- Snap Inc (the parent company of Snapchat).
The BBC report further stated, “Lawyers for the families believe the case of 14-year-old British schoolgirl Molly Russell is an important example of the potential harms faced by teenagers.”
Russell, a visibly happy teenager from northwest London (United Kingdom), was found dead in her bedroom in 2017 November. It was later discovered that she was viewing many content related to suicide, anxiety and depression online.
Russell’s name was mentioned in the master complaint submitted to the court, a dozen times in California (US).
For the relief of these families, the federal court in the United states rejected a social media giants’ motion to dismiss dozens of lawsuits, last week. They were bein accused for running platforms whcih are ‘addictive’ to kids and are allegedly spreading child sex abuse materials too- which are disturbing indeed.
Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, District Judge US reportedly rejected their motion, by saying that ByteDance (TikTok’s parent company), Meta (Facebook and Instagram’s parent company), Alphabet (Google’s parent company), and Snap (Snapchat’s parent company) must proceed with a lawsuit which are alleging their social platforms by having an adverse mental health effects on children.
According to the ruling, “Because children still developing impulse control are uniquely susceptible to harms arising out of compulsive use of social media platforms, defendants have ‘created a youth mental health crisis’ through the defective design of their platforms.”
The ruling further reads, “Further, these platforms facilitate and contribute to the sexual exploitation and sextortion of children, as well as the ongoing production and spread of child sex abuse materials (CSAM) online. To that end, defendants know that children use their products, both from public and internal data.”
Lawyers for the families called it a ‘significant victory.’
In an official statement, Meta said that their thoughts are with the families which are represented in these complaints.
The social media giant further said, “We want to reassure every parent that we have their interests at heart in the work we are doing to provide teens with safe, supportive experiences online.”
Google has been trying to defend itself by saying that the allegations are “simply not true”.
They further said, “Protecting kids across our platforms has always been core to our work.”
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Snapchat said that the platform “was designed to remove the pressure to be perfect. We vet all content before it can reach a large audience to prevent the spread of anything that could be harmful.
Inputs from IANS