Prince George’s Co. school board weighs suing social media giants

The Prince George’s County’s public school system is considering joining a lawsuit filed in Northern California targeting the social media companies behind popular apps and websites including Snapchat, Youtube, Instagram and TikTok.

At a school board meeting on Thursday, a lawyer vying to represent the district was asked what student data would potentially have to be shared with the court.

“You’re probably talking about more statistical information. I don’t think there’s a significant chance of any student identifications, names or anything like that taking place,” Attorney Gregory K. Wells told the board.

He said that if any private information was included in the litigation, that it would be protected from public disclosure by a judge.

According to a power point presentation put together by several legal firms and shared on the PGCPS’s website, the lawsuit would be low risk for the county, with costs advanced by counsel and minimal investment of staff time.

According to the presentation, “Prince George’s County Public Schools have been left to bear the costs of treating students and families affected by addiction and provide additional support services to affected students.”

Legal action would aim to “achieve meaningful recoveries for the plaintiffs, as well as changes to how social media companies operate, in order to safeguard children and adolescents, who are their most vulnerable consumers.”

Earlier this year, Seattle became the first school district to sue Meta, ByteDance, Alphabet and Snap over harm to young users. The city’s public school system accuses social media leaders of intentionally cultivating and “creating a mental health crisis among America’s youth.”

Social media companies have insisted they are committed to keeping teenage users safe.

Shayna Estulin

Shayna Estulin joined WTOP in 2021 as an anchor/reporter covering breaking news in the D.C. region. She has loved radio since she was a child and is thrilled to now be part of Washington’s top radio news station.

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