A California mother mourning the loss of her son to suicide is accusing anonymous Q&A apps LMK and Yolo, which can be used on Snapchat, of facilitating online harassment.
The lawsuit states that Kristin Bride’s 16-year-old son, Carson, took his own life as a result of cyberbullying and mentions reports of five other teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18 who apparently died by suicide as a result of cyberbullying, as well as two other teens who started petitions to raise awareness about the harmful effects of harassment on social media.
Snapchat is a popular social media app among teens that allows them to send photos and messages that disappear immediately or within 24 hours. The now-suspended Yolo and LMK allowed Snapchat users to send anonymous messages to each other.
“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. He never did, and, in the end, it was more than a 16-year-old who was seeking real friendship and connection could handle,” Bride said in a statement to FOX Business.
She added that “the nightmare” her family faces “every day … has been compounded with the complete lack of response that we have received from Yolo after repeated attempts to contact them.”
Yolo did not immediately respond to an inquiry from FOX Business.
PROPOSED ‘INSTAGRAM FOR KIDS’ WOULD BE A DISASTER: MISSOURI AG
“We are attentive parents, but this anonymous cyberbullying was silently occurring without our knowledge,” Bride said in the statement. “If this tragedy happened to us, it could happen to anyone. By bringing this lawsuit, I hope to hold Snap Inc., Yolo and LMK accountable for the dangerous and harmful products that they have created and for their inability to enforce the safety policies they promote to teens.”
Snapchat announced in its first-quarter earnings call in April that it has 280 million daily active users – a 22% increase year-over-year. That includes about 93 million North American daily users – 90% of whom are between the ages of 13 and 24, according to Snap.
STARBUCKS CONSIDERING LEAVING FACEBOOK OVER HATEFUL COMMENTS: REPORT
The lawsuit notes that while Snapchat has an age requirement of 13, there is no age verification process on the app.
Snapchat, Yolo and LMK have policies against cyberbullying and harassment, but the lawsuit states that the apps were “unable or unwilling to take action and carry out their promises to safeguard children” and “provide the means … for cyberbullying.”
Snapchat has since suspended both Yolo and LMK from its platform, a company spokesperson told FOX Business in a statement.
“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,” the spokesperson said.
GET FOX BUSINESS ON THE GO BY CLICKING HERE
Attorneys Juyoun Han and Eric Baum at Eisenberg & Baum LLP told Fox Business in a statement that “anonymous messaging apps promote bullying by allowing aggressors to hide behind their screens while subverting parents’ and schools’ abilities to protect children.”
“Despite these dangers, mobile apps such as Snapchat, YOLO, and LMK have designed and marketed anonymous apps to minors without proper safeguards. This suit alerts public consumers of the harms caused by the apps and demands that the apps’ developers be stopped from prioritizing profit over the lives and mental health of children,” the attorneys said.
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ON FOX BUSINESS
In response to Snapchat’s announcement that it is suspending LMK and Yolo, the attorneys said “it is unfortunate that a young life was taken and a lawsuit was brought before any company would take action.”
“We are looking for long-term, comprehensive changes in the way things are done,” Han and Baum said.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).