An unnamed 14-year-old boy has filed a class-action lawsuit against Snapchat, claiming that one of its features is harming minors because it exposes them to sexually explicit material.
The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Los Angeles on Thursday, claims that through its Snapchat Discover feature, Snapchat is “engaged in an insidious pattern and practice of intentionally exposing minors to harmful, offensive, prurient, and sexually offensive content, without warning minors or their parents that they would be exposed to such explicit content.”
“By engaging in such conduct directed at minors, and making it simple and easy for users to ‘snap’ each other content from Snapchat Discover, Snapchat is reinforcing the use of its service to facilitate problematic communications, such as ‘sexting,’ between minors,” the lawsuit states. “Snapchat has placed profit from monetizing Snapchat Discover over the safety of children.”
Specifically, the lawsuit claims that minors were exposed to articles like, “10 Things He Thinks When He Can’t Make You Orgasm,” and “F–k Buddies Talk About How They Keep It Casual,” as well as sexually explicit graphics such as “Beware of Whiskey Dick.”
A spokesman for Snapchat said in a statement, “We haven’t been served with a complaint in this lawsuit, but we are sorry if people were offended. Our Discover partners have editorial independence, which is something that we support.”
The lawsuit, however, claims that Snapchat “controls and curates” and “in many cases helps create the content” with its media partners. The suit claims that the Communications Decency Act requires services like Snapchat to notify customers in their service agreement about the availability of parental control protections. The suit contends that Snapchat is violating the law because its terms of service “includes no warnings about the offensive content on Snapchat Discover.”
“Worse yet, the biggest offender in sharing offensive communications with minors is not user to user communications, but is instead communications that Snapchat is sending and promoting to minors through Snapchat Discover,” the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of about 150 millions users of the service, which is popular among teens.
The lawsuit, filed by famed attorney Mark Geragos on behalf of a “John Doe” Los Angeles resident, also claims that the availability of the content violates its own community guidelines.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and injunctive relief, including an order barring Snapchat from engaging in the “unlawful practices” as well as an order to do a corrective advertising campaign.