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Snapchat Lawsuits

For an alarming number of kids and teens, overuse of social media has become so much more than just a bad habit. Snapchat misuse can cause real harm, including addiction, mental health disorders, and self-harm. Suicides have even been linked to Snapchat addiction.

These outcomes are a parent’s worst nightmare.

What happened isn’t your fault or your child’s fault. Research has shown that Snapchat’s features encourage usage patterns that border on addiction and, in some cases, prey on the underdeveloped brains of young people. That’s why Snapchat is facing numerous social media lawsuits.

Let us help you hold Snapchat accountable for the harm it has caused your family. Call 866-778-5500 or complete our online form to speak with our social media lawsuit attorneys today at no cost.

Why Are People Suing Snapchat?

In the ongoing Snapchat lawsuits, parents have blamed the social media app for significant harm to their children and teens, including:

  • Addiction
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Body image issues
  • Eating disorders
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Low self-esteem
  • Self-harm
  • Suicide or attempted suicide

Certain lawsuits have alleged additional kinds of harm.

For example, Snapchat has faced multiple lawsuits pertaining to the “speed filter” that encouraged users to drive dangerously fast, contributing to crashes that resulted in death or serious injury.

Snapchat has also been a means of exposure of child and teen users to drug dealers and sexual predators, forming the basis for allegations that the social media app contributed to drug-related deaths of minors and child sexual abuse.

What’s important for families harmed by Snapchat to know is that, according to many of the lawsuits and the researchers and investigators whose findings have backed up their allegations, the features of the social media site may be inherently dangerous or harmful for young users—and that these features may actually be designed to take advantage of the underdeveloped minds of preteens and teens.

What Is Snapchat?

Snapchat, owned by Snap Inc., is a popular social networking smartphone app. Through Snapchat, users share photos and videos, with or without filters that change or enhance the original media. Media shared through Snapchat can be shared privately with individual users or publicly.

Who Uses Snapchat?

Just how popular is Snapchat among young people? Snapchat user demographics are heavily skewed toward teens and young adults.

Statista reported in 2023 that 20.5% of Snapchat users were men in the 18-to-24 age group, and 18.3% of users were women in the 18-to-24 age group. Another 20% of users—split almost evenly between females (10.5%) and males (9.5%)—were between the ages of 13 and 17.

All told, more than 80% of Snapchat users in 2023 were under the age of 35. Just over 60% of users were under the age of 25. This fact is significant because it isn’t until the mid-20s or later that the part of the human brain that is responsible for decision-making is fully developed, the National Institute of Mental Health reported.

Snapchat isn’t only an app that’s primarily used by teens and young adults. It’s also the most popular social media channel among U.S. teens. According to Statista, 35% of teens rated Snapchat as their preferred social network as of the fall of 2021.

We are here to help.

The Potentially Dangerous Features of Snapchat

There’s a reason so many Snapchat lawsuits are now moving forward. Based on the findings of researchers and in-depth investigations, plaintiffs are alleging that some features of Snapchat contribute to a dangerously defective design.

Messages That Disappear (Sort of)

The signature feature of Snapchat is its disappearing messages. A ‘snap’ may disappear as quickly as one second after viewing. Unread snaps automatically get deleted in a matter of days. This feature can create a sense of urgency. Users feel a need to view snaps and messages promptly, further motivating use that can border on excessive.

The seemingly temporary nature of snaps may persuade users, especially teens whose decision-making parts of the brain are still maturing, to share media they would otherwise not publish. It can seem safer to share personal photos and videos when there will be no permanent record of the exchange, particularly if the content would be likely to get the teen in trouble if a responsible adult saw it.

Just because these media files are set to disappear after being viewed on the app doesn’t mean bullies, sexual predators, and others who mean a young person harm can’t capture and share the image in other ways. Once shared, the photos and videos are beyond the user’s control—a fact many young users don’t realize.

An Algorithm That Encourages Addictive Usage (Especially in Teens)

If you’ve ever wondered why preteens and teens seem particularly preoccupied with the opinions and approval of their peers, science holds the answer. What the American Psychological Society refers to as “a fundamental shift” in the brain that occurs between ages 10 and 12 that makes social rewards, like attention and approval, become a lot more compelling.

Social media interactions can feed this need for attention and approval and may be even more satisfying than face-to-face social interactions. This motivates kids and teens to use the app more and more frequently. Compounding the problem is that access to these social rewards is right at young users’ fingertips, any time of day or night.

Snapstreaks That Reward Daily Usage

Does it seem like your kid can’t go a day without Snapchat? The Snapstreak feature may be partially to blame.

A Snapstreak is awarded when two Snapchat users send each other media for at least three consecutive days. Once a Snapstreak enters the equation, it isn’t only teens’ developmentally normal thirst for social rewards that contributes to the addictive use of the app but also the pressure to maintain the streak as long as possible.

The more individual streaks a user is maintaining, the more time they need to spend on the app to keep up these streaks—often going so far as to interfere with their activities and interactions in the real world.

Snap Maps That Share Real-Life Locations

An interactive feature known as Snap Maps allows Snapchat users to share their locations with friends—who, in many cases, aren’t necessarily people teen users know (and trust) in real life. The use of the Snap Maps feature could put a user at risk by making their location known to predators.

Know your legal options.

The Dangers of Snapchat Addiction

By the time parents become aware that Snapchat addiction is more serious than just a little extra screen time, it can be very difficult to put an end to the misuse.

Remember, your teen’s willpower and any parental interventions, even confiscating the smartphone, may not be sufficient. The app’s features and algorithms prey on the vulnerabilities of young people’s developing brains. Trying to simply break the habit of using Snapchat is fighting against the brain’s rewards system.

Since Snapchat makes 99% of its revenue through advertising (per Investopedia), Snap Inc. benefits from keeping users—particularly the young people who make up the majority of its user base—spending as much time on the app as possible.

Snapchat addiction is severe enough to interfere with users’ lives in significant ways. The compulsion to check Snapchat notifications constantly may be so intense that young users can’t even sleep. It may also affect their performance in school and their engagement in the activities they used to enjoy, from sports and music to social activities. It’s not uncommon for young people who develop an addiction to Snapchat or other social media to also experience low self-esteem or to receive (or exchange) explicit or otherwise inappropriate photos and videos, often from adults.

Other serious effects can accompany social media addiction, including:

Snapchat Addiction & Anxiety, Depression, and Other Psychiatric Disorders

The likelihood of children and teens who are addicted to Snapchat or other social media platforms suffering psychiatric disorders like anxiety and depression is significant. Compared to light users of social media, heavy users are twice as likely to be depressed, news website Axios quoted expert Dr. Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, as saying.

Several of the Snapchat lawsuits that have already been filed against Snap Inc. involve severe depression, anxiety, and hospitalization for psychiatric episodes.

Body Image Issues and Eating Disorders Among Snapchat Users

Snapchat is a multimedia-sharing platform. Users are continually sharing photos and videos, often of themselves. Misuse and overuse of Snapchat can contribute to distortions in body image and declines in self-esteem among Snapchat users.

Some examples of the aspects of Snapchat use—and especially Snapchat addiction—that can contribute to a poor body image include the following:

  • Bullying comments about one’s appearance
  • Explicit snaps and messages from sexual predators
  • Filters that can make impressionable teens feel like they can’t measure up to perfection

Body image issues can affect even kids who seem well-adjusted in other aspects of their lives. Feeling bad about their bodies may contribute to kids and teens developing depression or anxiety. Some young Snapchat users have obsessed over their appearance to the point of developing eating disorders.

A 2019 Forbes article reported that “teens who spend more time on social media could be far more likely” to develop eating disorders. The article cited the results of a research study which, it explained, found that spending just 30 minutes per day on social media could increase in teens numerous problems that include “notably poor self-image” that “could lead to unhealthy eating behaviors.” Among the teen participants in the study, Snapchat was one of the social media channels of choice for girls, more than half of whom reported eating disorders.

The Brookings Institution called out Snapchat, among certain other social channels, as being home to “communities of eating disorder enthusiasts.” The content produced and shared by pro-eating disorder communities can normalize poor body image and excessive, unsafe methods of dieting or exercise under the guise of promoting health and fitness or “thinspiration.”

Self-harm and Suicide

Young people who are struggling with the pain of social media addiction, depression, anxiety, and poor body image may be a danger to themselves.

Self-harm is a dangerous but all too common consequence of social media misuse and addiction. For a parent, seeing your child hurt physically and emotionally can be gut-wrenching.

Self-harm can sometimes progress to the point of a suicide attempt. For young people to take their own lives because of social media addiction is nothing short of horrific—yet it has happened over and over.

You are not alone.

What Families Can Do About Snapchat Addiction

The first thing parents need to know about social media addiction is that it’s just as serious as you may fear. You’re not overreacting by being concerned, and the fact that “everyone” in your teen’s social circle also uses Snapchat doesn’t mitigate the potential dangers.

Don’t treat the problem as a personal failure or blame your child. To the extent that you can do so, help them understand the ways social media preys on developing brains. A child or teen struggling with social media addiction needs support, not criticism.

If you believe that your teen has (or is on the way to) a full-blown addiction to Snapchat or social media more generally, don’t wait to get professional help. Speak to your teen’s doctors and start looking for mental health professionals who can help. Simply taking away access to Snapchat and other social media channels by confiscating the phone may not be enough. Often, teens who are addicted to social media have turned to desperate measures, such as running away, just to check their notifications.

Learn the signs that could indicate suicidal ideation. Check in with your teen regularly, and if you have any reason to worry about possible self-harm or suicide attempts, seek immediate assistance. You can call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Just as you shouldn’t blame your child for this problem, please don’t blame yourself, either. Social media addiction isn’t your fault. The companies behind these apps develop them with features that are designed to keep users spending more and more time on the site, and children and teens are particularly vulnerable. That’s why many families are now seeking to hold social media companies accountable for the harm their children suffered through Snapchat lawsuits.

Snapchat Lawsuits for Teenage Harm

The harm that has been linked to Snapchat and other social media websites is so widespread that numerous families have now filed lawsuits against Snapchat over the harm their children have suffered, including acts of self-harm, suicide, and attempted suicides.

Rodriguez v. Meta Platforms Inc. and Snap Inc.

A lawsuit filed in January 2022, Rodriguez v. Meta Platforms Inc. and Snap Inc., detailed the addiction and death of Selena Rodriguez, who, according to reports, developed an addiction to both Snapchat and Instagram when she was nine years old. Her use of these social media platforms was associated with the development of severe depression, low self-esteem, eating disorders, sleep deprivation, inappropriate interactions with adult men, bullying at school and, on July 21, 2021, suicide.

Heffner vs. Meta Platforms Inc. and Snap Inc.

The lawsuit Heffner vs. Meta Platforms Inc. and Snap Inc., filed in June 2022, stemmed from the social media addiction and ultimate suicide of Liam Birchfield. The middle-schooler developed an addiction to Snapchat and Instagram. Sleep deprivation, depression, self-harm, and suicidal ideation were among the harms Birchfield was reported to have suffered before he lost his life on July 6, 2021.

Dawley vs. Meta Platforms Inc. and Snap Inc.

An October 2022 lawsuit, Dawley vs. Meta Platforms Inc. and Snap Inc., tells the tragic story of Christopher James “CJ” Dawley. The well-adjusted teen began using Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook apps when he was 15. Sleep deprivation, body image issues and the exchange of inappropriate images all preceded Dawley’s suicide on January 4, 2015, at 17 years old.

Doffing v. Meta Platforms Inc. and Snap Inc.

Lawsuits have also been filed on behalf of children and teens who survived but have been harmed by social media addiction. According to the Snapchat lawsuit Doffing v. Meta Platforms Inc. and Snap Inc., filed in January 2022, 14-year-old M.K. became addicted to Snapchat and Instagram within two weeks of installing the apps on her first-ever smartphone. M.K. subsequently developed an addiction to these apps, followed by body image issues, eating disorders, sleep deprivation, receipt of inappropriate sexual communications from men, declines in academic performance and multiple hospitalizations.

Snapchat Fentanyl Lawsuits

Snapchat’s disappearing message features lend themselves to drug trafficking, as NBC News reported in April 2023. A Snapchat fentanyl lawsuit is now moving forward, representing the families of more than 60 young people who lost their lives to fentanyl overdoses after connecting with drug dealers through Snapchat.

According to the lawsuit (as quoted by NBC News), “Snap and Snapchat’s role in illicit drug sales to teens was the foreseeable result of the designs, structures, and policies Snap chose to implement to increase its revenues.”

It’s not too late for families affected by drug overdoses facilitated by Snapchat to explore their legal options.

Getting Help for Snapchat Lawsuits

No Fee PromiseSnapchat hasn’t willingly accepted blame for the harm its young users have suffered.

The case Carly Lemmon v. Snap Inc. is an example of how the social media company has responded to Snapchat allegations of harm. The plaintiffs in this case that arose out of the motor vehicle deaths of young boys blamed Snapchat’s ‘Speed Filter’ feature, highlighting “the danger of its product in encouraging driving at excessive speeds.” Snapchat tried to evade legal consequences by arguing that it wasn’t a “publisher” of content on the app and so qualified for immunity from the suit. Ultimately, Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw of the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2021 that “Snap does not enjoy immunity” from lawsuits of this nature.

To hold Snapchat accountable for harming young users, you’re going to need professional legal representation from experienced social media addiction attorneys who are willing to fight for you. Our attorneys are currently seeking to interview families who believe Snapchat is to blame for the harm their children suffered.

We’re familiar with the ins and outs of complex social media harm and addiction lawsuits, and we’re not afraid to stand up to major corporations, including social media companies. We represent families on a no-win, no-fee basis and handle every step of the legal process, so pursuing a claim never has to become a burden for your family.

For a free, no-obligation consultation with the team at Console & Associates, P.C., call 866-778-5500 or contact us online today.

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