Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland has become the latest U.S. school district to sue Meta and TikTok for allegedly contributing to the mental health crisis among young people in recent months.
Prince George’s County Public Schools filed a nearly 200-page lawsuit against the social media companies behind TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat, alleging they are intentionally targeting children with platforms designed to be addictive.
The lawsuit claims that the social media companies designed the platforms without fully understanding the consequences on children’s mental health. The lawsuit mentions the rise in eating disorders, depression, and suicidal ideations among teenagers.
Prince George’s County Public Schools claim that the social media companies “recklessly ignored” the impact on children’s mental and physical health in a race to “corner the valuable but untapped market” of teenagers.
“Our primary goal is to ensure the safety and well-being of our children, allowing them to learn and receive the highest quality education possible,” Judy Mickens-Murray, the Prince George’s County Public Schools board chair says in a statement seen by Fox Business.
“Unfortunately, students in our district and throughout the nation are confronting unparalleled mental health and learning challenges caused by their addiction to social media, intensified by detrimental algorithms and features.
“It is imperative that these companies take responsibility for their role in this crisis affecting our youth.”
The lawsuit does not specify the amounts of damages, it does seek compensation for the financial burden incurred by the county as it provides more mental health services. The county is also asking a jury to award punitive damages.
Prince George’s Public Schools are a large public school district administered by the government of Prince George’s County in Maryland.
In a statement, a Google spokesperson says that “the allegations in these complaints are simply not true” and “protecting kids across our platforms has always been core to our work.”
Maryland joins the rising number of states and public schools that have filed lawsuits against social media companies in recent months — accusing them of harming young people’s mental health.
In January, Seattle Public Schools filed a lawsuit against the companies behind TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat, alleging that these social media companies have created a public nuisance by targeting their products to children.
In March, the state of Arkansas also announced it was suing Meta and TikTok, accusing the social media platforms of misleading consumers about the safety of children on its “addictive” platforms and deceiving users about the protection of their private data.
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