Snapchat, Google, and Apple are being sued by a 16-year-old girl and her mother who claim the platforms failed to protect teen users from “egregious harm.”
The case centers around a man who began requesting nude photographs from the girl, named as L.W in the lawsuit, when she was just 12-years-old.
The man, who was an active-duty Marine at the time, used Snapchat because he “knew his chats would disappear.” The Marine, named as B.P, saved the photos that the L.W sent and shared them around on other platforms.
Snapchat’s parent company Snap is named in the lawsuit, but so are Google and Apple, for hosting the app Chitter on their marketplace, the app used by B.P to share the photos.
“The claims alleged in this case are not against the adult perpetrator – they are against three major technology companies who enable him and others to commit these crimes,” the lawyers wrote in the suit, which Business Insider viewed.
Her lawyers argue that the “tools and policies” of Snap, Apple, and Google, are designed to increase their wealth rather than protect the minors who use their products and apps.
The claimant, L.W, was first contacted by the B.P via Instagram in September 2018. The two then connected on Snapchat, where the man, based in Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, asked the minor to send nude photographs.
B.P was convicted in a military court last year on charges related to child pornography and sexual abuse following a criminal investigation, according to the Washington Post.
During the case, he acknowledged that he used Snapchat because he knew the chats would disappear.
The lawsuit alleges that Snapchat is a “safe haven” for sexual predators thanks to the app automatically disappearing users’ messages.
Apple and Google are also named because of the app Chitter on their stores. B.P used the messaging app to circulate photos and videos he obtained of L.W. The giant tech companies were “profiting from in-app purchases,” according to the lawsuit.
Chitter allows two random users to connect and share messages, photos, and videos anonymously. The app is not named as a defendant in the suit but lawyers argued the application had gained a reputation for attracting predators. Apple and Google have both deleted Chitter from the store since the case came to light.
Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.