Lake Oswego woman files lawsuit against social media developers
Lake Oswego resident Kristin Bride filed a lawsuit earlier this month against three social media developers almost a year after her 16-year-old son, Carson, committed suicide.
Leading up to Carson's death June 23, 2020, the Lake Oswego teen was anonymously cyberbullied on Snapchat through the anonymous messaging features on YOLO and LMK software — which were suspended last week by Snap Inc.
"In light of the serious allegations raised by the lawsuit, and out of an abundance of caution for the safety of the Snapchat community, we are suspending both YOLO and LMK's Snap Kit integrations while we investigate these claims," said a Snap spokesperson in an email to the Review.
Attorneys Juyoun Han and Eric Baum of Eisenberg & Baum LLP firm representing the plaintiffs released a statement regarding Snap Inc.'s recent announcement.
"It is unfortunate that a young life was taken and a lawsuit was brought before any company would take action," the statement read. "We are looking for long-term, comprehensive changes in the way things are done."
According to a press release sent by the Eisenberg & Baum LLP firm, which is representing the plaintiffs, the estate of Carson Bride and the Tyler Clementi Foundation, the lawsuit was filed May 10 with the United States District Court for the Northern District of California against the app developers: Snap Inc., YOLO Technologies Inc. and LightSpace Inc.
"We found out that, in the last days of Carson's life, he was desperately reaching out to friends to learn who was harassing him and searching for YOLO hacks to find a way to identify his tormentors," said Kristin and her husband Tom in a joint statement. "He never did, and, in the end, it was more than a 16-year-old who was seeking real friendship and connection could handle."
The plaintiffs believe the social media platforms should be discontinued until safeguards are implemented and, according to the press release, they demand "compensation for consumers who were misled and harmed."
The Tyler Clementi Foundation — a national organization that aims to prevent bullying — formed when 18-year-old Tyler Clemeni committed suicide after being bullied by his freshman college roommate in 2010.
"Digital platforms must adhere to the policies they promise to their customers," said Jane Clementi, Tyler's mother and co-founder and CEO of the foundation, in the press release. "While cyberbullying is certainly a very complex problem … platforms like Snapchat, YOLO and LMK simply must give the consumer the protections they promise to provide while using their products. We need everyone to work together to make sure our youth are safe."
According to the lawsuit, Snapchat and the Snap Kit integrations condemn bullying and harassing behavior on their platforms.
LMK guidelines stated that the app doesn't engage or encourage targeted abuse or harassment toward others.
"This includes sending any unsolicited sexual content to your matches," the app's guidelines stated. "Reports of stalking, threats, bullying, or intimidation, are taken very seriously and may be reported to law enforcement."
According to the lawsuit, YOLO policy stated it would reveal identities and ban users who engage in bullying or harassing behavior. Similarly, Snapchat stated it would remove third party apps that allow this behavior.
"The messages contained humiliating, sexually explicit, and hateful content, but the senders remain anonymous," the press release read. "After Carson's death, his parents made multiple reports to YOLO and its founder, conveying the urgency to reveal and ban abusive users who had sent messages to Carson so they may be prevented from repeating the harm to other teens. To date, no one from YOLO has responded."
The plaintiffs want the developers of the apps to be held accountable for the death of Carson and the emotional grief the family suffered.
"The high school students who anonymously cyberbullied Carson will live with this tragedy for the rest of their lives," said Kristin in the press release. "However, it is the executives at Snapchat, Yolo, and LMK irresponsibly putting profits over the mental health of young people who ultimately need to be held accountable."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.