NASHVILLE, Tenn.--The Clarksville-Montgomery School System (CMCSS) has filed a lawsuit against multiple social media companies regarding an alleged lack of controls surrounding student access and appropriate content.
The Lewis Thomason and Frantz Law firms, based out of Tennessee and California have joined in representing the district in the lawsuit against Meta, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Google, WhatsApp, and YouTube.
In a media release on the suit, the firms state they are filing due to the "damages and growing mental health crisis among students."
CMCSS Director Dr. Jean Luna-Vedder issued a statement on the lawsuit, stating "Over the past few years, we have observed and experienced a rise in mental health issues, threats of school violence, cyberbullying, inappropriate content, and other challenges, damages and disruptions linked to students’ use of social media – and the lack of protections and controls thereof. Without cooperation and support from social media companies, CMCSS has been fighting an uphill battle. We need to protect our children, our schools and our society.”
The concern is echoed by Chris McCarty of Lewis Thomason Law who added “These issues cause disruptions in schools, increased costs and safety concerns. The Clarksville-Montgomery County School System is taking a brave and proactive step to seek accountability and marked changes in the way social media giants interact with children.”
The Frantz Law Group is based in California, representing the districts. CEO James Frantz says social media companies should not be doing this.
“Eight-year-olds are getting hold of someone's telephone, and getting on social media," Frantz said. "And they can't get off of it. And they're getting addicted to it.”
Frantz adds the apps designed the algorithms to get your kids hooked. He says the industry is out of control.
“We've got to really get them regulated, because they don't really care, in my view. And our view or our clients view about what harm is caused, as long as they have their advertising profits that they make every time someone gets on the platform.”
JC Bowman with Professional Educators of Tennessee says he's interested to see how this will play out.
“Story across our nation of kids that were so bullied, that they that they harm themselves. And, you know, how do you replace a life? You don't."
Ivy Choi, a Google spokesperson, said, "Protecting kids across our platforms has always been core to our work. In collaboration with child development specialists, we have built age-appropriate experiences for kids and families on YouTube, and provide parents with robust controls. The allegations in these complaints are simply not true.”
A spokesperson for Snapchat provided the following statement to FOX 17 News:
Snapchat was designed differently from other social media platforms because nothing is more important to us than the well-being of our community. Our app opens directly to a camera rather than a feed of content that encourages passive scrolling and is primarily used to help real friends communicate. We aren't an app that encourages perfection or popularity, and we vet all content before it can reach a large audience, which helps protect against the promotion and discovery of potentially harmful material. While we will always have more work to do, we feel good about the role Snapchat plays in helping friends feel connected, informed, happy, and prepared as they face the many challenges of adolescence.
CMCSS told FOX 17 News they are unable to comment on pending litigation, but they provided the following message they sent to parents, guardians and employees regarding the lawsuit.
This week, the Frantz Law Group, APLC, working with Lewis Thomason, P.C. in Tennessee, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of CMCSS for the damages and growing mental health crisis among students that have been caused by social media companies. Over the past few years, CMCSS has experienced a rise in mental health issues, threats of school violence, cyberbullying, inappropriate content, and other challenges, damages, and disruptions linked to students’ use of social media and the lack of protections, controls, and cooperation by social media companies. Without cooperation and support from social media companies, CMCSS has been fighting an uphill battle. It is time for social media companies to be held accountable for the lack of monitors, controls, and cooperation to protect children and our society, and CMCSS appreciates the partnership with the Frantz Law group to do that. We will keep families updated as the litigation progresses.
Both firms have extended an invitation by other districts to join the suit by contacting Lewis Thomason at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get reports like this and all the news of the day in Middle Tennessee delivered to your inbox each morning with the FOX 17 News Daily Newsletter.