Pittsburgh Public Schools to sue social media platforms

Pittsburgh Public Schools believe social media marketing that targets children has hurt student mental health. They plan to file a lawsuit in federal court against social media platforms, accusing them of contributing to learning loss and increased misbehavior.

The Pittsburgh school board approved retaining law firms for the case against Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok in a 7-0 vote. They will be represented by Levin Sedran & Berman of Philadelphia and Robert Peirce & Associates of Pittsburgh, with one of the firms covering the upfront expenses of the case according to Pittsburgh Public Schools solicitor Ira Weiss.

This lawsuit follows others in the country such as the Seattle school district, which filed a complaint against social media websites for increasing mental and behavioral issues. Their complaint states that between 2009 and 2019 there was on average a 30 percent increase in the number of students “so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more in a row that [they] stopped doing some usual activities.”

The Pittsburgh lawsuit would look to recover increased costs from various mental health services, learning loss, and counseling. The case has been likened to vaping lawsuits which have been similarly criticized for targeting children. Both have been associated with negative impacts on brain development, and Weiss believes there is a similar theory with vaping lawsuits.

The district’s case will likely be heard alongside the other districts around the country filing similar lawsuits. According to CBS News Pittsburgh, as of Jan. 27 Pittsburgh Public Schools plans to file the suit within 60 days.