A 14-year-old boy and his mother have filed a lawsuit against Snapchat , over its Discover Feature, accusing that the photo- and video-sharing app regularly exposes juveniles to sexually explicit contents without appropriate warnings.
The lawsuit, which was filed by Mark Geragos in US District Court for Central California, claims that Snapchat infringes the Communications Decency Act, a 1996 law intended to regulate pornographic material on the internet.
The plaintiffs stated that John Doe, a minor was exposed to Disney characters in sexually explicit conditions as part of a photo collage titled “23 Pictures That Are Too Real If You Have Ever Had Sex With A Penis” served up on the Discover channels from BuzzFeed. The boy was also exposed to other articles with similarly suggestive titles during the first week of July.
While adults should be free to consume any of this material, and may themselves find it to be humorous and witty, the fact that Snapchat does not differentiate content offered to its minor users and adult users is problematic, and ultimately a violation of Federal and State consumer law, states the lawsuit. “Compounding matters is that adult content and images appear to be directly marketed and advertised to minors based on the use of cartoons, childhood relatable images and very young looking models.”
According to the lawsuit, “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. Snapchat has placed profit from monetising Snapchat Discover over the safety of children.”
We have not 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, a Snapchat spokesman said in a statement.
Finally, the lawsuit calls for a ruling that would require Snapchat to warn users about adult content and an order that provides parents the ability to block such content. It is also demanding disgorgement of hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising revenue plus compensatory damages and more.