Seattle school sues platforms like TikTok, Meta over youth ‘mental health crisis’

A pub­lic school in Seat­tle has sued the tech giants behind Tik­Tok, Face­book, Insta­gram, YouTube and Snapchat for cre­at­ing a “men­tal health cri­sis for Amer­i­ca’s youth.”

A 91-page law­suit filed in U.S. fed­er­al dis­trict court alleges that a tech com­pa­ny exploit­ed the addic­tion of social media to fuel anx­i­ety, depres­sion and thoughts of self-harm.

“Defen­dants’ growth is a prod­uct of their deci­sion to design and oper­ate their plat­forms in a way that taps into the psy­chol­o­gy and neu­ro­phys­i­ol­o­gy of their users and encour­ages users to spend more and more time on their plat­forms,” it alleges.

am. “They took advan­tage of the frag­ile brains of young peo­ple and engaged tens of mil­lions of stu­dents across the coun­try in a pos­i­tive feed­back loop of overuse and abuse of the defen­dants’ social media platforms.”

Harm­ful con­tent pro­vid­ed to users includ­ed extreme diet­ing and incite­ment to self-harm, accord­ing to the lawsuit.

That’s why there’s been a 30% increase in stu­dents report­ing that they’re “very sad or hopeless…have stopped [rou­tine activ­i­ties] for more than two weeks at a time” from 2009 to 2019.

Defen­dant mis­con­duct was a sig­nif­i­cant con­tribut­ing fac­tor to the youth men­tal health cri­sis, char­ac­ter­ized by an increas­ing pro­por­tion of young peo­ple suf­fer­ing from anx­i­ety, depres­sion, self-harm and sui­ci­dal ideation.

The pro­por­tion of chil­dren suf­fer­ing from men­tal prob­lems has been ris­ing since 2010, and in 2018 sui­cide became the sec­ond lead­ing cause of death among young people.

The result is low­er aca­d­e­m­ic per­for­mance, “less school­ing, more drug use, and more behav­ior, all of which direct­ly affect Seat­tle Pub­lic Schools’ abil­i­ty to ful­fill its edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion.” becomes.

Sec­tion 230 of the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Decen­cy Act states that online plat­forms are not respon­si­ble for con­tent post­ed by third parties.

But the law­suit says the pro­vi­sion does not pro­tect social media com­pa­nies that endorse, dis­trib­ute or pro­mote con­tent “in a dam­ag­ing manner.”

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