More than a dozen Long Island school districts sue social media giants on behalf of students

The districts are filing lawsuits on behalf of students and children they believe have suffered from the social media products.

Caroline Flynn

Jul 10, 2024, 10:03 AM

Updated 2 days ago

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More than a dozen Long Island school districts are filing lawsuits against several big social media companies.
The districts are filing lawsuits on behalf of students and children they believe have suffered from the social media products.
Long Island school districts named as plaintiffs include South Huntington, Kings Park, Jericho, Great Neck, Port Jefferson, East Islip, North Merrick, Bellmore-Merrick, Merrick, Islip, Brentwood and Westbury. Hebrew Academy of Nassau County is also filing suit.
The districts on Long Island are joining a lawsuit previously filed in 2022 by districts from around the country.
According to the lawsuit, they are seeking damages as a result of the use of social media products including physical pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life.
Social media companies mentioned in the lawsuit include Tik Tok, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
A Snapchat spokesperson would not address the lawsuit, but said they continue to work to make Snapchat a platform that makes friends feel connected as they face challenges of adolescence.
Port Jefferson School District is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Superintendent Jessica Schmettan told News 12 that while they've noticed a huge hit in their budget toward mental health services for students, it was important to be a part of the litigation as the district wants to be at the forefront of keeping kids safe. They feel this is a step in that direction.
"What I worry about most for our kids is you know the addictiveness of the phone and social media platforms so I really hope with this lawsuit that it brings awareness of that to our students and young children and I hope these big companies see they do need some regulations," Schmettan added.
Port Jefferson School District said it does not need to pay to be a part of the case as it's a mass action lawsuit. They did have to dedicate time to providing attorneys information on the ways social media has negatively impacted students in the district.
The founder and executive director of the Long Island Coalition Against Bullying, Joseph Salamone, said he has worked with some of the districts named in the lawsuit. He said their involvement is not something he finds surprising.
He explained, "our statistics are showing somewhat while conventional wisdom would say cyberbullying should be dramatically higher, when you ask kids in the school classroom about cyber bullying they say it doesn't happen as much and the reason that is because it's kind of baked in to everything already because nothing happens without a phone being too far away."
Salamone said that nothing typically happens anymore without the presence of a cell phone.
"You can have a physical fight and someone is there to record it. Why are they going to record it? Cause they're going to post it on social media. When they want to leave people out, how are they doing that? They're going on social media and letting people know we are hanging out and we left you out," he added.
A spokesperson for Meta says, “We want to reassure every parent that we have their interests at heart in the work we’re doing to help provide teens with safe experiences online. We’ve developed more than 50 tools and features to do this, including ways for parents to set time limits for their teens on our apps, age verification technology, automatically restricting teens under 16 from receiving DMs from people they don’t follow, and sending notifications encouraging teens to take regular breaks.”


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