CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County School District on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against several social media companies.
The lawsuit names social media sites Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and TikTok along with their parent companies Bytedance, Meta Platforms and Google.
The lawsuit alleges the companies and sites are a public nuisance stating the sites put students and parents at a “highly unreasonable risk of harm” with a “reckless and outrageous indifference.”
Specifically, the lawsuit alleges the companies made their products purposely addictive to young users “substantially contributing to the mental health crisis.”
Court documents also allege the companies were negligent in not investigating and testing their platforms as “wrongfully concealed” safety information.
“The mental health crisis caused and/or significantly contributed to by the defendants has caused major disruption in Plaintiff’s schools,” documents state.
The district, in court documents, says the impact of the platforms has caused the district to employ more mental health professionals, development more resources for mental health and add additional training for teachers and staff to recognize emotional and social distress.
Court documents state the district “suffered harm to their real and
personal property along with other economic losses, including the costs associated with past, present, and future efforts to address, pay for, and/or eliminate the youth mental health crisis, in an amount to be proven at trial.”
The lawsuit also asserts the companies knew the risks of harm the platforms posed to users and did not warn the “unsuspecting public.”
The district is asking for an injunction for the companies to stop the practices causing the nuisance and prevent further nuisances from occurring. They are also seeking actual and punitive damages and fees of an undisclosed amount.
The district is asking for a jury trial.
District spokesman Andy Pruitt said the goal of the lawsuit was to benefit students, employees and families.
“The Board made the decision to move forward with this action with the goal of benefiting our students, employees, and local families as a whole,” Pruitt said. “Retaining outside counsel, especially a local firm with national MDL experience like Motley Rice, for a case of this magnitude is an economically sound decision for our district.”
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