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Social Media Litigation

Social Media Litigation

Why Should School Districts Sue Tech Companies Like TikTok and Snapchat?

Many social media/technology companies have knowingly and intentionally designed their algorithms to push harmful content to children, teenagers, and young adults in order to generate, literally billions of dollars in revenue and profits. The major technology companies involved are: Meta (owner of Facebook and Instagram), Byte Dance (owner of TikTok), Snap (owner of Snapchat), and Google (owner of YouTube).

School Districts need to hold these social media companies accountable and stop them from continuing to use their algorithms to maximize the time a child spends on their platforms, called (“user engagement”). Many of these algorithms routinely recommend content that glorifies violence, contains explicit sexual imagery, promotes drug use, glamorizes eating disorders, and/or can encourage self-harm. Unfortunately, School Districts are left to bear the costs of helping students and families affected by these harms.

The aim of litigation is to recover funds for School Districts to help their students, by hiring additional mental health personnel and develop additional resources to address mental, emotional, and social issues caused by this harmful exposure. School Board litigation will also help to demand changes on how social media companies operate, in order to safeguard children and adolescents going forward. These companies must be held accountable.
School districts are on the frontlines of a nationwide youth mental health crisis fueled by addictive social media products. With so many of our youth in turmoil, schools have been forced to divert crucial resources to help students in need of health services. Social media has caused an ever-growing mental health crisis in this country.

Additionally, School Districts will have to increase training for teachers and staff to identify and help students exhibiting symptoms of mental, emotional and social health issues as well as expose members of the community to the dangers of social media when used the wrong way.

WHAT STEPS HAVE BEEN TAKEN INVOLVING THESE CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES?

On May 23, 2023, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a public advisory that social media could have a profound risk of harm on the health of children and adolescents. The Surgeon General found that one in five children aged 13 to 17 now suffers from a mental health disorder, due to many of these exposures and research has shown that over 50% of teens say they are online constantly.

In light of these findings, The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association have all declared child and adolescent mental health a national emergency.

JAMA Pediatrics researchers conducted brain scans and concluded that social media use is associated with physical changes in children’s brains. JAMA Psychiatry also published a study showing teenagers who use social media more than three hours a day are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and aggression.

A study conducted on middle school students indicated that spending too much time on social media increases the risk of eating disorders, with 52% of girls and 45% of boys opting to skip meals, engage in physical exercise, and other common behaviors associated with eating disorders. There are numerous other studies and scientific research showing that excessive exposure to social media is harmful to the health of students and increases rates of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, eating disorders, and suicide.

SCHOOL DISTRICT CONCERNS

Most School District administrators and staff are at full capacity and don’t have the time, experience or resources to bring about a lawsuit on their own. Hiring an experienced law firm like Terrell Hogan would eliminate a School Districts exposure to the up-front costs associated with litigation. Cases like these are handled on a contingency basis and there would be no costs, fees or expense unless a financial recovery is made on the School Districts behalf.

WHERE WOULD THE LAWSUIT BE FILED?

There is already a multi-district litigation or (“MDL”) established against the main social media companies in the Northern District of California before Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers.

The reality is that since the case would be filed in the MDL and not State Court, it would require a minimal investment of time on the part of School District’s administrators and staff. A Fact Sheet would be required and possibly a little more, but they would not be required to sit for numerous depositions, answer extensive discovery, or attend hearings or trial.

MEET THE LITIGATION TEAM

The filing of this case would be handled by an Attorney Applicant Team of Terrell Hogan, Mehri & Skalet, and Bailey Glasser.

There would be three highly qualified law firms, combining their talent, time, experience, and energy to pursue this litigation on behalf of any School District wanting to recover expenses associated with these harms done to children attending their schools.

At Terrell Hogan P.A., Wayne Hogan and Alan Pickert have over 80 years of combined civil trial and legal experience successfully handling cases where one party has caused harm to another. Before representing numerous school boards in Florida and across the nation in the national Opioid litigation, Wayne Hogan handled precedent-setting Florida asbestos cases at trial and in the appellate courts and represented the State of Florida its racketeering case against, and historic settlement with, the Tobacco Industry.

Alan Pickert has successfully handled over 3,000 cases, recovering 100’s of millions of dollars in awards and settlements. He has been named one of the top lawyers in the nation by numerous publications including Newsweek Magazine, Florida Trend, Legal Elite, and Best Lawyers.

At Mehri& Skalet, PLLC, Cyrus Mehri has represented numerous school boards in the National Opioid litigation. He has successfully won numerous large cases against large companies, including the two largest race discrimination class actions in history.

Ben Bailey is the co-founder of Bailey Glasser with 84 lawyers in 18 offices across the country from Washington, DC to Oakland, CA. He has been co-counsel in several large class actions, including the largest automobile products class action in history. Arthur Bryant has been practicing law for over 40 years. The National Law Journal has twice named him one of the “100 Most-Influential Attorneys in America.” Leslie A. Brueckner helps lead Bailey Glasser’s national Appellate and Supreme Court Practice Group, where she focuses her practice on cutting-edge appellate representation as well as assisting trial teams with legal issues in complex litigation. She is an appellate advocate with over 35 years of experience.

Together, this team of trial experienced litigators, presents a formidable ally in the fight against Social Media Giants wreaking havoc among our school aged children, many of whom might suffer permanent damage because of these Social Media Giants nefarious actions.

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