San Diego Schools Sue Facebook, Twitter For Mental Health Crisis

Two districts in San Diego County are part of a larger group of 16 districts that have filed a lawsuit against over a dozen social media companies in a San Francisco federal court. The lawsuit aims to hold Facebook, Twitter, and other companies responsible for contributing to the mental health crisis by exposing children to harmful content and cyberbullying.

Oceanside and Coronado Unified are joining a growing number of school districts nationwide in suing the country’s largest social media companies, arguing that their content algorithms and platform designs are addicting children and teens and have caused worsening anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.

The two San Diego County districts are among 16 districts that filed suit against more than a dozen social media companies Wednesday in San Francisco federal court. The defendants include the tech companies that run Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, WhatsApp, YouTube and Google. The National City and Ramona districts are also plaintiffs in the suit.

The districts argue those companies have fueled a youth mental health epidemic that predates COVID-19 by targeting minors and designing apps in a way that entices people to use them for long periods of time. The plaintiffs cite app features such as likes, comments, rewards and read receipts that it says addicts users to collecting and waiting for social media interactions and effectively encourage them to compare themselves with their peers.

The litigation points to research that has found a host of poor health, behavioral and emotional outcomes associated with heavy social media use, such as depression, low self-esteem, cyberbullying, eating disorders, sleep deprivation and more.

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“Social media companies are and have been well aware of the harm they cause,” said James Frantz, a San Diego-based attorney representing the plaintiff districts, in a statement. “It must stop, and we will fight to hold these social media companies accountable for choosing profit over the mental health and safety of children and their families.”

Bloomberg has reported that KPMG, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and Morgan Stanley are being sued over the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank in the federal court in San Francisco.

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