LAKE OSWEGO, OR (KPTV) - A Lake Oswego mother’s legal effort to hold social media companies accountable for online bullying and teen suicide has prompted Snapchat to make some big changes, FOX 12 exclusively learned on Tuesday.
A 73-page class action lawsuit against Snapchat, YOLO and LMK was filed Monday on behalf of Kristin Bride and the Tyler Clementi Foundation. The latter is a national organization dedicated to stopping online bullying and harassment.
Bride’s 16-year-old son, Carson Bride, took his own life in June of 2020 after enduring months of online bullying, said the lawsuit.
In an email, a Snapchat spokeswoman told FOX 12, “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 integration while we investigate these claims.”
The suspension is just one of many demands outlined in the lawsuit that was filed in federal court in California.
According to court documents, Bride also seeks financial compensation and other claims for “strict liability, negligence, fraudulent misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, and violations of consumer protection laws” by the apps.
According to the lawsuit, Snapchat, YOLO and LMK don’t do enough to protect users from harassment and bullying -- particularly by anonymous parties – and it also characterizes the apps as “dangerous, unsafe…and known to cause severe and fatal harm to teenagers”
The lawsuit said it aims to represent all United States residents between the ages of 13 and 17 that have been using Snapchat since at least 2018.
Outlined in the complaint are details regarding how Carson was targeted and victimized. The lawsuit alleges that in the months leading up to his death, Carson received dozens of anonymous messages that were meant to “humiliate him, often involving sexually explicit and disturbing content.”
Carson’s obituary, published by Pamplin Media Group, said the sophomore attended Riverdale High School in Portland. He was described by his family as creative and caring, with a variety of interests and an infectious smile.
Carson loved working as a ski instructor helping kids at Mount Hood, as well as games, robotics, sports and drama, according to the obituary.
In a statement sent to FOX 12, through the family’s lawyer, Carson’s parents shared, “We are attentive parents but this anonymous cyberbullying was silently occurring without our knowledge…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,” the statement continues. “In the end, it was more than a 16-year-old who was seeking real friendship and connection could handle. The nightmare that we face every day with the loss of our son has been compounded with the complete lack of response that we have received from Yolo after repeated attempts to contact them.”
The lawsuit claims that “negligence” by the apps “caused (Carson’s) wrongful death” and that two psychologists who treated Carson believed his suicide was triggered by cyberbullying.
“If this tragedy happened to us, it could happen to anyone,” Carson’s parents said in the statement. “By bringing this lawsuit, I hope to hold Snap Inc., YOLO and LMK accountable for the dangerous and harmful products… In this way, social media companies will think twice before they decide to continue putting profit over people.”
According to Carson’s parents, their son’s final wishes were that donations be made to the local teen suicide hotline, the Oregon Youth Line.
You can find help and more information about the Oregon Youth Line here,
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, there are resources and help available, as well as hope that it does get better.
An abundance of resources, programs and contact information can be found here.