At a school board meeting Monday evening the Jamesville-Dewitt school district voted to sue several social media companies for the impact their platforms can have on students.
The district will join a class action lawsuit against companies like Meta, Google and Tik Tok. The district says the social media platforms knowingly allow minors to share content that can contain harmful or emotionally disturbing language that can influence a student’s well-being.
“What’s been happening recently is the school districts are effectively having to deal with the fallout of social media involvement for their students. Either from cyber bullying content being pushed to them, and as a result it’s beginning to make things incredibly difficult for the schools,” said Ryan McCall, attorney for Tully Rinckey PLLC Attorneys & Counselors at Law.
“I think what the schools are trying to do is say we need to get this under control. We have zero control over what type of social media is being put out about our schools, what type of things our children are engaging in, and I think ultimately, it’s going to be a very broad lawsuit but I think the message is clear. There’s a mental health crisis regarding young children in our society and the schools think that social media is at the heart of it and they’re trying to do everything they can to curtail it,” said McCall.
McCall says there have been instances where social media companies have been sued and found liable for certain things, but this lawsuit in New York state on behalf of a school district is new territory.
“I think you’re going to see the social media companies effectively try to hedge their bets and settle this out of court, because if you get a decision and let’s say the school district is successful, now there’s legal precedents. And say this happens in other New York state school districts they’re going to be able to reference this case and say hey listen, this is what we did last time, this is a similar set of facts, let’s move ahead with our case, and that’s something I think social media companies want to avoid,” said McCall.
The Jamesville-Dewitt school district has worked with the law firm representing them in the social media suit in the past. In 2022, it successfully sued vape manufacturer Juul for the impact its products have on the district’s students.
No dollar amount was attached to Monday’s decision to move forward with the lawsuit, but the Jamesville-Dewitt school district has spoke in the past about using any money for student’s mental health support and preventative measures.