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Fri Feb 9, 2024, 06:25 PM Feb 2024

Baltimore County Joins Long List of Md. School Systems Suing Social Media

WMAR2 News, Feb 09, 2024. Ed. 💻

TOWSON, Md. — Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) is the latest district in Maryland to join a nationwide class action lawsuit against social media companies. The list already includes Anne Arundel, Charles, Harford, Howard, Frederick, Montgomery, Prince George's, St. Mary's and Wicomico County Public Schools. They claim social media is a "primary contributor to escalating mental health issues among students."

Specifically the lawsuit names Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and TikTok.

Schools argue those platforms "intentionally designed their platforms to target children without providing adequate warnings to users and parents about the potential dangers of social media leading to increased rates of eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts." The schools say they've been "compelled to redirect funds meant for essential educational resources to address the detrimental effects of social media."

BCPS accuses the companies of gaining substantial profits from the practice. "These tech companies prioritize financial gains over the safety and well-being of children, despite being aware of the harmful consequences of their actions." Law firms working on the case are doing so according to an agreement that would reportedly come at no cost to taxpayers. We reached out to the social companies when the lawsuit was first filed months ago, and here is what they had to say.

Protecting kids across our platforms has always been core to our work. In collaboration with child development specialists, we have built age-appropriate experiences for kids and families on YouTube, and provide parents with robust controls. The allegations in these complaints are simply not true. - Google Spokesperson. Meta gave this response: We want to reassure every parent that we have their interests at heart in the work we’re doing to provide teens with safe, supportive experiences online. We’ve developed more than 30 tools to support teens and their families...

[RELATED: Maryland schools file lawsuit blaming social media for youth mental health crisis]

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