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New York City Takes on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, Alleging Harmful Addiction Impact on Kids


New York City, its schools, and public hospital system have filed a lawsuit against several tech giants, including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube. They claim that these social media platforms are contributing to a childhood mental health crisis, which is negatively impacting learning and putting a strain on resources.

The lawsuit highlighted the vulnerability of children and adolescents due to their still-developing brains.

According to a 311-page filing in superior court in California, where the companies are headquartered, it is stated that a large number of young people are now heavily reliant on the platforms provided by the defendants.

The country’s largest school district, serving around 1 million students, has encountered challenges including disruptions in and out of the classroom, a demand for counseling services addressing anxiety and depression, and the creation of curricula addressing social media impact and online safety.

According to Mayor Eric Adams’ office, the city allocates over $100 million annually towards youth mental health programs and services.

“In the last ten years, we have witnessed the addictive and overwhelming nature of the online world, which exposes our children to a constant flow of harmful content and contributes to the crisis of mental health among young people,” Adams stated.

NYC Lawsuit Accuses Tech Giants of Teen Exploitation

(COMBO) This combination of pictures created on April 25, 2023 shows logos of online platforms, applications, social networks and technology and IT companies of Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Wikipedia, Pinterest, AliExpress, Facebook, Meta, Apple app store ,Snapchat, Linkedin, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok and fashion retailer Zalando. The European Union on April 25, 2023 designated 19 online platforms, including Instagram, TikTok and Twitter, as having user numbers so big they will come under stricter regulatory rules for content.

The legal action represents the most recent addition to a series of lawsuits brought forth by states, school districts, and other parties. These lawsuits allege that social media companies engage in the exploitation of children and adolescents through the intentional design of features that encourage constant scrolling and account checking.

According to a recent lawsuit, it seems that teenagers are well aware of the excessive time they spend on social media, yet feel unable to break free from its grasp. The lawsuit has been filed by the city of New York, its department of education, and New York City Health and Hospitals Corp, the largest public hospital system in the country.

The lawsuit aims to have the companies’ behavior recognized as a public nuisance and stopped, along with seeking unspecified financial compensation. The tech companies have stated that they are actively working on developing and implementing policies and controls that prioritize user safety.

According to José Castañeda, a spokesperson for Google, the allegations in the complaint are false. Castañeda mentioned that the company has worked closely with experts in youth, mental health, and parenting.

A TikTok spokesperson mentioned regular collaborations with others in order to learn from each other and address common challenges in the industry.

According to an emailed statement, TikTok has implemented various measures to prioritize the wellbeing of teenagers. These measures include age-restricted features, parental controls, a 60-minute time limit for users under 18, and more.

According to the Pew Research Center, a significant number of American teenagers are active on social media platforms. In fact, it is reported that nearly all teenagers in the US use social media. Additionally, around one in six teens claim to use YouTube and TikTok almost constantly.

A representative from Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, emphasized the company’s commitment to ensuring that teenagers have a safe and appropriate online experience. They highlighted the availability of over 30 tools and features designed to support both teens and their parents.

We have dedicated the past ten years to addressing these concerns and bringing on board individuals who have committed their professional lives to ensuring the safety and well-being of young individuals in the online space.

During a late January Senate hearing, Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta, expressed his condolences to the parents who tragically lost their children due to exploitation and sexual abuse on social media.

In a statement, Snap Inc, the parent company of Snapchat, highlighted that its app stands out by opening directly to a camera instead of a feed that promotes mindless scrolling. Additionally, it emphasized that the app does not include traditional public likes or comments.

“Although there is always room for improvement, we are pleased with the impact Snapchat has on fostering connections, happiness, and resilience among close friends as they navigate the various obstacles of adolescence,” the statement expressed.

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