Are Social Media Platforms Liable?
While social media has evolved to become an effective, key component of many communications plans, we know how engaging in social media can be a complete time drain for those who choose to participate.
Just thumbing through posts on the various platforms without even responding often consumes us as we review and evaluate post after post after post.
Now, some 600 school districts across the country and 10 school districts in Arizona are suing TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, accusing the social media companies of knowingly contributing to a mental health crisis among their students which has forced the districts to divert resources to address the problem.
An article on azcentral.com notes:
“The complaint alleges that the social media companies have intentionally designed their platforms to maximize the time users — particularly youth — spend on them. They’ve done so by exploiting the neurophysiology of the brain’s reward systems, despite knowing that social media harms young people, according to the complaint.”
This begs the question: Is this a social media problem or a parenting problem?
Sure, there are controls that can be — and are – put in place on school computers that limit what websites and social media platforms can be accessed. The same can be said for other publicly available computers, like what you might find at a library.
Just a couple years ago, Psychology Today posted a story about what role and responsibility a parent has over the kid’s use of technology.
According to the article, parents are the frontline to kids’ use of technology. They are buying them smartphones at increasingly younger ages (the average age of children getting a smartphone is 10.3 years), from which a child is given direct, unadulterated access to everything that is good and bad about the Internet.
And, if the social media companies have actually come up with something to intentionally create “social media addicts,” then they, too, must have a role in fixing the problem.
Does a successful lawsuit solve the problem? It might have a limited financial benefit and may create more conversation around what needs to be done, but putting the toothpaste back in the tube is almost impossible.