The mother of a teen who took his life after being bullied on Snapchat is now suing the app, alleging that Snapchat and additional apps YOLO and LMK violated consumer protection law by not living up to their terms of service and that they facilitate bullying.
16-year-old Carson Bride took his life after receiving anonymous messages on Snapchat’s YOLO app for months, according to the Los Angeles Times and the federal lawsuit. The messages included taunts and sexual comments, and the teenager couldn’t respond or such comments would be made public via the app. After his family found him dead on June of 2020, his search history showed that he had looked up “Reveal YOLO Username Online” that same day.
Kristin Bride, Carson’s mother, has since filed the suit Monday alongside co-plaintiff, Tyler Clementi Foundation, a nonprofit formed after an 18-year-old took his own life in 2010 following cyber bulling. They are seeking to have YOLO and LMK banned from the platform and are seeking damages.
“The high school students who anonymously cyberbullied Carson will live with this tragedy for the rest of their lives,” Bride said in a statement from the Eisenberg & Baum firm. “However, it is the executives at Snapchat, YOLO, and LMK irresponsibly putting profits over the mental health of young people who ultimately need to be held accountable.”
Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, stating that no “interactive computer service” can be held liable for information posted by a user, usually protects social media apps in cases like these. But a ruling last week by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals added some responsibility to companies that enable dangerous features. The case centered around a Snap filter that detected speed, and ultimately was used by two teens who were killed in a high-speed car crash.
None of the apps responded to immediate request to comment via the LA Times. But Snapchat has not removed either YOLO or LMK from its platform, despite having “reason to know through numerous reports that YOLO and LMK lack adequate safeguards to prevent teen users from being victimized by harassment, sexually explicit materials, and other harm,” the lawsuit states.