TikTok and Meta face lawsuit from Maryland public schools over “addictive” platforms
A public school in Maryland has filed a lawsuit against the owners of social media giants like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube. The 200-page lawsuit blames them for a growing mental health crisis and an increase in cyberbullying, as well as for intentionally targeting children with addictive platforms.
The Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) has filed the lawsuit against Meta, Snap Inc., Byte Dance, and Google. According to the lawsuit, the social media companies designed their platforms without fully considering the potential consequences on children’s mental well-being. It highlights the alarming rise in eating disorders, depression, and suicidal thoughts among teenagers as evidence.
Judy Mickens-Murray, the chair of the PGCPS school board, said in a statement:
“Our primary goal is to ensure the safety and well-being of our children, allowing them to learn and receive the highest quality education possible. Unfortunately, students in our district and throughout the nation are confronting unparalleled mental health and learning challenges caused by their addiction to social media, intensified by detrimental algorithms and features. It is imperative that these companies take responsibility for their role in this crisis affecting our youth.”
The lawsuit asserts that the defendants deliberately designed and operated their platforms to exploit the psychology and neurophysiology of users, especially its youngest users. It claims that they “recklessly ignored” the impact on children’s mental and physical health in a race to “corner the valuable but untapped market” of teenagers.
The plaintiff further adds that all these apps are particularly aimed to exploit children since they ” lack the same emotional maturity, impulse control, and psychological resiliency as adults.” In other words, the apps exploit their young brains that still haven’t developed fully.
In response to the allegations, a spokesperson from Google told FOX 5 that the complaints were “simply not true.” Google spokesperson Ivy Choi said:
“Protecting kids across our platforms has always been core to our work. In collaboration with child development specialists, we have built age-appropriate experiences for kids and families on YouTube, and provide parents with robust controls. The allegations in these complaints are simply not true.”
Two other school systems in Maryland, in Cecil and Carroll counties, have joined the PGCPS’s efforts to sue the social media companies. Several school systems in California, Pennsylvania, and Florida have joined as well. Perhaps you remember that earlier this year, Seattle schools filed a lawsuit over the same issues, too.
There is no doubt that social media like TikTok, Instagram, or Facebook are designed to draw you in and make you spend as much time as possible scrolling through them. They have even been blamed for teen boy’s and girl’s suicides and for causing eating disorders. The only thing I disagree with is that these apps don’t target children – they target everyone.
Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.