Snapchat is facing a class-action lawsuit filed by a 14-year-old boy and his mother in the US over claims that its feature Discover serves sexually explicit content to minors without warning them or their parents. The lawsuit also drags several publications in its complaint alleging that they promote such sexual content through Snapchat's platform.
"Specifically, through Snapchat Discover, Snapchat is currently 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," reads the crux of the lawsuit.
The lawsuit in particular argues that the ongoing practice is a violation of the Communications Decency Act. A class-action lawsuit in the US typically allows one party — in this case the anonymous plaintiff — to represent a much larger group of people who can be compensated if they the court decides in their favour.
Below are some excerpts from the lawsuit filing:
Millions of parents in the United States today are unaware that Snapchat is curating and publishing this profoundly sexual and offensive content to their children
In 2015, in an effort to monetise its interactive platform, Snapchat developedSnapchat Discover, an integrated feature on Snapchat where Snapchat, Inc creates,generates, curates, develops, and promotes content jointly with "media partners" which include DailyMail, Buzzfeed, Vice, Cosmopolitan, Fusion, MTV, and a handful of other popular media publishers. Snapchat selects these media partners for Snapchat Discover andexercises direct control over its editorial content and what is published to the consumer
Snapchat's "Terms of Service," which are generally entered into directly by minors who even lack the capacity and consent to enter into contracts in the first place,includes no warnings about the offensive content on Snapchat Discover
Meanwhile, Snapchat issued a statement after the news of the lawsuit surfaced saying: "We are sorry if people were offended. Our Discover partners have editorial independence, which is something that we support." The social networking app which has close to 150 million users has been in the limelight in the past as well for alleged security threats and probes into their policies over privacy.
The news of the lawsuit comes at a time when Snapchat is changing is operational pattern by letting users now save the pictures they post. Previously, users could only see the pictures anyone posts for less than a minute. Now with the introduction of a new 'memories' feature users can save their snaps and stories.