Class Says Snapchat Send Kids Dirty Pictures

     LOS ANGELES (CN) — A 14-year-old boy and his mother launched a class action lawsuit against Snapchat, accusing the social media app of sending sexually explicit material to minors.
     Snapchat, created by Stanford graduates Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown in 2011, allows users to instant-message photos to each other that quickly disappear. The app emerged as “sexting” was entering the language.
     To monetize it, Snapchat began developing and promoting private content and selling advertising.
     In 2015, Snapchat introduced Snapchat Discover, in which content is generated and promoted by Snapchat and its media partners MTV, Buzzfeed, Cosmopolitan and others. But rather than moving away from the “shady world of sexting,” the new content exposes minors to “harmful, offensive, prurient and sexually offensive content,” Lynette Young says in the July 7 federal complaint.
     Young’s 14-year-old son John Doe was one of them. He says he joined the “Snapchat craze” to communicate with friends. It was his primary method.
     On July 1, he says, he was exploring Snapchat Discover when he found a compilation of Disney images under the title “23 Pictures That Are Too Real If You’ve Ever Had Sex With A Penis.” The photos were accompanied by adult-themed jokes and Doe says his “favorite Disney movies were perverted into obscene sexual images and text.”
     He saw a story about a performance artist titled “What Is It Really Like to Let People Finger You in Public,” and showed it to his mother, who was “horrified and shocked” to learn that Snapchat made such things available to children.
     Snapchat claims that its app reaches 41 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds each day and has more than 100 million users.
     According to a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center, 100 million teens in the United States use Snapchat. Views have grown by more than 400 percent in the past year and will surpass 18 billion daily video views by May 2017, according to the complaint, and nearly a quarter of these are children age 13 to 17.
     What are they looking at?
     The 32-page complaint provides what it calls a random sample of content from Snapchat over a three-day period:
     Images of dolls in sexual positions;
     An article titled “I Got High, Blown and Robbed When I Was A Pizza Delivery Guy”;
     An article titled “F#ck Buddies Talk About How They Kept It Casual”;
     An article titled “People Share Their Secret Rules For Sex.” One of its rules is: “Do not shove my head towards your dick while we’re hooking up in hopes of me giving you a blowjob. If I’m doing to do it, I’ll do it, so relax. Same applies to butt stuff.”
     The mother and son say that when Snapchat introduced its new feature it said that its editors and artists would curate and post the content, taking it out of the hands of users. The complaint cites a Snapchat press release: “Snapchat Discover is a new way to explore stories from different editorial teams. It’s the result of collaboration with world-class leaders in media to build a storytelling format that puts the narrative first. This is not social media. Social media companies tell us what to read based on what’s most recent or most popular. We see it differently. We count on editors and artists, not clicks and shares, to determine what’s important.”
     But Young and her son say Snapchat does almost nothing to keep adult content away from minors. Updated Terms of Service for Snapchat do not address adult content on Snapchat Discover, and though it has rules about not sending sexual jokes, captions or cartoons to minors that are created “outside” of Snapchat, it says nothing about “explicit content found within Snapchat,” according to the complaint.
     “The content Snapchat offers on Snapchat Discover consistently violates Snapchat’s own Community Guidelines. If Snapchat were a user, it would be banned from using Snapchat,” the complaint states.
     Young seeks class certification, preservation of records, restitution and disgorgement, an injunction and punitive damages for negligence, unjust enrichment, unfair business practices and violations of the Communications Decency Act.
     She is represented by Mark Geragos, who did not return a phone call seeking comment. Snapchat did not return an email seeking comment.

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