Snapchat Makes Policy Changes Following Oregon Boy’s Cyberbullying Suicide
Snapchat has started making policy changes following a class action lawsuit filed following the suicide of an Oregon boy.
According to FOX12, the 73-page lawsuit was filed earlier this week on behalf of Kristin Bride and the Tyler Clementi Foundation against Snapchat, YOLO, and LMK. The latter organization is an anti-cyber bullying group.
Kristin Bride’s 16-year-old son Carson, adds FOX12, committed suicide in June 2020. He allegedly had months of virtual bullying and abuse.
The lawsuit details how Carson Bride was attacked and victimized by his colleagues through Snapchat and other social networks. In the months leading up to his suicide, Carson received dozens of anonymous messages intended to “humiliate him and often contain sexually explicit and disturbing content.”
Most of the news, according to the Los Angeles Times, was sent through Snapchat’s popular and anonymous in-app feature, YOLO.
The Times notes that the messages must have come from people who knew Carson personally – it related to specific cases in Carson’s life, including the time he passed out in biology class at his school in Portland, Oregon.
Say No To Bullying Signs; Image courtesy of Andrevruas via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org, CC BY-SA 4.0
However, the features of YOLO made it impossible for Carson to identify the senders. If Carson had replied to any of the YOLO messages, the app would have made the original content public – meaning Carson’s humiliation would have been visible to anyone on his contact list.
After Carson’s family found his body on June 23, 2020, an investigation revealed that he had searched for “Reveal YOLO Username Online” earlier that day.
The lawsuit now seeks to have YOLO and another anonymous messaging application, LMK, be banned from Snapchat immediately.
“The students who cyber-bullied Carson anonymously will live with this tragedy for the rest of their lives,” said Kristin Bride in a statement from Eisenberg & Baum, the law firm that represents the plaintiffs. “However, it is the executives of Snapchat, Yolo and LMK who irresponsibly make profits on young people’s mental health who ultimately need to be held accountable.”
“If this tragedy happened to us, it could happen to anyone,” she added. “With this lawsuit, I hope to hold Snap Inc., YOLO, and LMK accountable for the dangerous and harmful products. That way, social media companies will think twice before deciding to continue making profit on people.”
Although Snapchat has not yet made an in-depth comment on the pending litigation, a company spokesperson said the social media platform has decided to temporarily change its business operations.
“Given the grave allegations raised by the lawsuit, and out of caution for the safety of the Snapchat community, we are suspending the Snap Kit integration of YOLO and LMK while we investigate these claims,” a Snapchat spokesperson told FOX12 a statement sent by email.
The complaint, filed as a prospective class action lawsuit, aims to represent all residents of the United States who are between the ages of 13 and 17 and have been using Snapchat since at least 2018.
A teenager who was bullied on Snapchat died. His mother sues to hold social media liable
Snapchat announces changes in the wake of the lawsuit involving the death of a teenage boy by suicide