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A South Carolina Family of a 13-year-old Boy Who Killed Himself Sues Snapchat Over a Fraud Plot


Bettsy Hauptman, a mother from South Carolina, has sued Snapchat because her 13-year-old son Timothy Barnett killed himself on April 6, 2023. According to the claim, Timothy died because he fell for a fraud scheme on the social media app.

When that terrible morning came, things were going as usual for the Hauptman family. We were getting ready for the day. He told Fox News Digital, “The alarm went off at about 6:15.” Timothy’s stepfather, her husband, thought he saw someone sleeping in the yard at first, but it turned out to be Timothy.

After six months, Hauptman found out that her son had been forced to send inappropriate pictures on Snapchat. The FBI says that sextortion is when crooks force victims to send explicit content in exchange for money or even more explicit content. Hauptman found this information deep inside Timothy’s closed suicide case.

A Snapchat representative sent their condolences and stressed that the company has a strict policy against predators. “We use proactive detection tools to find and remove these types of criminals and work around the clock to support law enforcement investigations,” a spokesperson said. Snapchat also talked about the safety measures it has in place for teens, such as programs that teach them how to spot and report threats.

Hauptman and her husband tried to keep an eye on what their kids did online, but they didn’t fully understand the risks Timothy was facing. Every so often, they checked their kids’ phones. Hauptman found a bad video sent to Timothy on Snapchat in November 2022. They told Timothy about the risks, stopped the sender, and took his phone away for a while.

Hauptman’s lawyer, Joe Cunningham, said that Snapchat’s design was dangerous and that if such problems happened in real life, they would be fixed right away. The case, which was filed in federal court in South Carolina, says that Snapchat’s features make it too dangerous for kids. It says that Timothy’s victimization and subsequent suicide were made worse by the platform’s disappearing texts and weak parental controls.

The lawsuit says that Snapchat’s “disappearing” messages make people more likely to do dangerous things like sexting and cyberbullying. It also says that people can save or record these messages, even though Snapchat says they can’t. The claim says this leads to exploitation, especially among teens who believe what the app says.

Tim’s situation is not unique. A similar plan took the life of State Rep. Brandon Guffey’s 17-year-old son, and he has also sued Meta, Instagram’s parent company. Guffey focus on the fact that children aren’t protected on social media sites and asks parents to demand better safety measures.

The terrible things that happened to Guffey and Hauptman make people more worried about the safety of kids on social media. Hauptman recalls her son as a lively, daring kid who loved baseball and the saxophone. “He was always the one to light up the room when he walked in,” she added.

The death of Timothy is still being looked into. Hauptman is suing Snapchat to hold them responsible and stop other families from going through the same terrible things.

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