Tuscaloosa City Schools Sue Tech Giants Over Cost of Social Media’s Harm to Students
Tuscaloosa City Schools joined two other Alabama school systems this week in lawsuits against four tech supergiants over the harm their platforms are doing to the mental health of students.
The suits were filed by Beasley Allen, Wagstaff & Cartmell, and Goza & Honnold on behalf of Tuscaloosa City Schools, Baldwin County Public Schools and Montgomery Public Schools.
The defendants are Meta, who owns and operates both Facebook and Instagram, Youtube -- owned by Google -- the Chinese-owned TikTok and Snapchat, which is privately owned.
The Beasley Allen team filed the lawsuits in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles., where attorney Joseph VanZandt argued that combatting "social media addiction" is costing educators too much time and too many resources.
“The harm created by social media companies has strained already limited school resources as educators attempt to combat the widespread problems caused by social media addiction," he said. "These lawsuits make it clear to social media companies that they will face consequences for their conduct not only from the adolescents they harmed but also from the people and institutions supporting our youth.”
The attorneys have previously filed social media lawsuits on behalf of adolescents they say were harmed by social media. They allege that these platforms can lead to anxiety, depression, body dysmorphia, self-harm and suicide.
“We must guide our youth through this mental health crisis. To do so, our schools need additional funding, personnel, training and more." attorney Davis Vaughn said. "Beasley Allen attorneys, along with our co-counsel at Wagstaff Cartmell and Goza & Honnold, seek to help these school districts get the resources they need from the companies that preyed upon our youth.”
Tuscaloosa City Schools provided the Thread with a statement that said the lawsuit was filed on their behalf at no expense to the system unless it leads to a financial recovery, in which case a portion of that money will be paid to the attorneys representing the schools.
"The Tuscaloosa City Schools, much like other school systems across the U.S., have witnessed the mental health crisis that is occurring in our youth," said TCS Superintendent Dr. Mike Daria. "We have increased our funding for mental health resources to meet these demands, including hiring more school counselors, hiring a mental health coordinator, and increasing training and communications when it comes to the needs of our students' mental health. But all that comes at a cost. And ultimately, it is today's youth that is paying the ultimate price."
For updates on the case as they become available, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.