On Friday, Seattle Public Schools disclosed a broad legal action against numerous social media firms. According to the district, the addictive nature of YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat has harmed its finances and operations.
However, issues with social media go beyond how addicting it is. Many U.S. officials are concerned that ByteDance, the Beijing-based business that owns TikTok. It may exploit the user data it obtains. Because of this, many states have banned the software on official computers, and other lawmakers want to go much further.
In its complaint, Seattle Public Schools claims that youth mental health issues are being worsened by social media addiction. The 90-page lawsuit was filed in response to Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s congressional testimony in 2021, which revealed that social media powerhouses manipulated material on purpose to keep kids and teenagers on their platforms for longer.
Bishop claims that the district will need to make two jumps to strengthen its argument. The first will demonstrate how social media firms are creating a crisis in young people’s mental health. Secondly, it will highlight the tangible effects of that crisis on Seattle’s public schools.
The frequently mentioned Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which classifies social media companies as platforms rather than publishers and exempts them from liability for anything that users upload on their sites, will be a crucial point of contention.
Almost 19 states banned TikTok
Seattle Public Schools asserts that these websites violate Washington state law’s ban on public nuisances. This is the same justification used by the school district in prior legal actions against Jewel Labs and e-cigarette manufacturers. A long-term strategy to lower rates of anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and other indicators of a teenage mental health crisis is being funded through compensation sought by the district.
TikTok use on government equipment is prohibited in 19 states due to ByteDance security issues. Washington Technology Solutions confirmed to Soundside that the state is now looking at how the app is used but that decisions have yet to be made about tighter regulations of the social media behemoth.
President Joe Biden recently authorised a ban on TikTok on the vast majority of devices used by the federal government. Even a national ban is being pushed by some MPs, although it’s unclear if anything will come of it.
TikTok has been attempted to be banned before. Donald Trump, the former president, ordered that TikTok be sold to a U.S. business in 2020. This action was to resolve security issues with the Chinese government. ByteDance still owns TikTok today, and the Biden administration is looking for equivalent workarounds, like storing user data from Americans on regional cloud servers.