Seattle schools sue TikTok, Meta and other platforms over youth ‘mental health crisis’

Seattle public schools have sued the tech giants behind TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat, accusing them of creating a “mental health crisis among America’s Youth.” The 91-page lawsuit filed in a US district court states that tech giants exploit the addictive nature of social media, leading to rising anxiety, depression and thoughts of self-harm.

“Defendants’ growth is a product of choices they made to design and operate their platforms in ways that exploit the psychology and neurophysiology of their users into spending more and more time on their platforms,” the complaint states. “[They] 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.”

Harmful content pushed to users includes extreme diet plants, encouragement of self-harm and more, according to the complaint. That has led to a 30 percent increase between 2009 and 2019 of students who report feeling “so sad or hopeless… for two weeks or more in a row that [they] stopped doing some usual activities.”

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