Snapchat Sued Over “Sexually Offensive Content” From Its Media Partners

While many people might use Snapchat just to share photos and videos with friends, there’s also an area for brands and media companies to post content, which you can see in the app’s “Discover” tab. But according to a new lawsuit against the social media company, that feature is showing minors “sexually offensive content” without warning.

Snapchat is in the legal crosshairs of a John Doe plaintiff seeking class-action status with a new lawsuit filed on Thursday in California federal court that accuses it of “an insidious pattern and practice of intentionally exposing minors to harmful, offensive, prurient and sexually offensive content, without warning minors or their parents that they would be exposed to such explicit content,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The issue here is Snapchat Discover, which shows users content from media partners like Buzzfeed, MTV, and Vice. Snapchat helps to curate that content, the lawsuit says, and as such, it “exercises direct control over its editorial content and what is published to the consumer.”

A minor could swipe through that area and see articles like “10 Things He Thinks When He Can’t Make You Orgasm” and “I Got High, Blown, and Robbed When I Was a Pizza Delivery Guy” the lawsuit says, though there is nothing in Snapchat’s terms of service that warn about offensive content.

There are also graphics that might not be suitable for minors, the lawsuit says, including rockets shaped like male genitalia with a blow-up doll inside. Or in the case of the John Doe plaintiff, a 14-year-old boy, he apparently used Snapchat Discover earlier this month, and found a Buzzfeed article that had pictures of Disney characters that had been sexed up to make them look like the cartoons were involved in sexual acts.


That kind of thing could be confusing to kids, the lawsuit says.

“While adults should be free to consume any of this material, and may themselves find it to be humorous and witty, the fact that Snapchat does not differentiate content offered to its minor users and adult users is problematic, and ultimately a violation of Federal and State consumer law,” states the lawsuit. “Compounding matters is that adult content and images appear to be directly marketed and advertised to minors based on the use of cartoons, childhood relatable images and very young looking models.”

The lawsuit alleges that Snapchat is violating the Communications Decency Act, and is demanding an injunction that would require Snapchat to warn users about adult content, as well as an order that provides parents with the ability to block that content. It also seeks disgorgement of hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising revenue plus compensatory damages and more.

“We haven’t been served with a complaint in this lawsuit, but we are sorry if people were offended,” a spokesperson for Snapchat said. “Our Discover partners have editorial independence, which is something that we support.”

Snapchat Sued for Exposing Kids to Media Partners’ “Sexually Offensive Content” [The Hollywood Reporter]

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