Seattle schools’ lawsuit says social media companies are causing a mental health crisis

Seattle schools’ lawsuit says social media companies are causing a mental health crisis

  • Social media companies are named in a lawsuit filed by the Seattle Public School District.
  • The lawsuit accuses Meta, Google, TikTok and Snap of causing a mental health crisis among America’s youth.
  • It is claimed that the companies have designed their platforms to exploit human psychology and become addictive.

Giant social media companies are accused of “causing a mental health crisis among America’s youth” in a lawsuit filed by the Seattle Public School District on Friday.

The lawsuit, which Insider has examined, names Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat, Google and their affiliates as defendants and criticizes their business models, claiming they harm youth.

The Seattle public school system said it was responsible for filing the lawsuit because children with mental health problems perform lower in school and are less likely to attend at all, which undermines schools’ educational mission.

The lawsuit alleges that the apps “successfully preyed on the vulnerable minds of youth and engaged tens of millions of college students across the country in positive feedback loops of excessive use and abuse of the defendants’ social media platforms.”

It added that the content they “curate and target youth is too often harmful and exploitative,” citing examples that promote self-harm and an extreme “corpse bride” diet.

One consequence of this is said to be rising rates of mental illness, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

According to the American Psychological Association, the rate of 12- to 17-year-olds experiencing major depression increased 52% from 2005 to 2017. During the first seven months of the COVID-19 lockdown, the APA later reported one mental health-related emergency. Department visits for the same age group increased 31% compared to 2019.

Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, was fined $403 million by Irish regulators in September 2022 for failing to protect children’s privacy. It was fined another $414 million on Jan. 4 amid a dispute over whether users must be asked for consent in order to track them for advertisers.

The lawsuit also cites President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address last year, in which he said, “We must hold social media platforms accountable for the national experiment they are running on our children for profit.”

A Snap spokesperson said “nothing is more important to us than the well-being of our community,” and it works closely with mental health organizations to provide users with “resources to help them deal with the challenges young people are facing.” face people today”.

Google, Meta, and TikTok did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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