An American public school accuses technology companies of harming the mental health of students

A public school district in Seattle, Washington state, has sued Big Tech, alleging that the companies were responsible for exacerbating a mental health crisis among students and directly affected the schools’ ability to carry out their educational mission.

The complaint, filed against Alphabet Inc, Meta Platforms Inc, Snap Inc, and TikTok owner ByteDance with the US District Court, alleged that they intentionally designed their products to connect young people with their platforms and were causing a mental health crisis.

In statements emailed to Reuters, Google said it invested heavily in creating safe experiences for children across its platforms and provided “robust protections and customized features to prioritize their well-being,” while Snap said it works closely with several mental health organizations to offer in-app tools and resources for users and that The welfare of her community is her top priority.

Meta Platforms and TikTok did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment. In the past, the companies have said they aim to create an enjoyable experience for users, exclude harmful content, and invest in moderation and content control. The lawsuit says the companies’ actions were a material factor in causing the mental health crisis. for young people.

“The defendants succeeded in exploiting the vulnerable minds of young people, connecting tens of millions of students across the country in positive feedback loops from the excessive use and abuse of the defendants’ social media platforms,” ​​the lawsuit said.

Students with psychological problems perform worse, the complaint said, prompting schools to take steps that include training teachers to identify and treat these symptoms, hiring trained staff, and creating additional resources to warn students about the dangers of social media.

The lawsuit seeks compensation for financial damages and other penalties. In 2021, US lawmakers accused Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg of pushing for higher profits at the expense of children’s mental health after testimony from whistleblower Francis Hogan. Facebook has consistently said it does not agree with the characterization. Haugen that the company is failing to protect teenage girls on Instagram.

“The argument that we deliberately promote content that makes people angry for profit is completely illogical,” he posted on his Facebook page in response. “We make money from ads, advertisers constantly tell us they don’t want their ads next to harmful or angry content, and I don’t know of any company.” Technology sets out to build products that make people angry or depressed.”

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