APP. Mobile Messaging.
California based attorney Mark Geragos, who has represented high profile clients such as Michael Jackson and Scott Peterson, is now taking on Snapchat, a mobile messaging app launched in 2011, which allows users to share videos, photos, text and drawings.
Earlier this year, the app reached 10 billion daily video views. According to a May 2016 article in Forbes, Snapchat is valued at $18 to $20 billion.
Geragos filed suit on behalf of Lynette Young and her minor child and is seeking class-action status. The suit contends that Snapchat is exposing underage users to sexually explicit and inappropriate material and not giving sufficient warning to the users and their parents. Users must state that they are at least 13 years of age to sign up for the service.
Terms of Service.
Snapchat’s terms of service warns its users not to send sexually explicit messages, but the suit contends that the company is not doing enough. Discover, a feature of the app allows the sharing of material, including videos, from third-party sources such as MTV, BuzzFeed and Cosmopolitan magazine. The lawsuit contends that parents of minor users would object to much of the material if they were aware of its accessibility.
Geragos stated that about 25 people have contacted his office over the past year expressing their concern over their children’s exposure to crude images, sexual references and other topics, such as drugs and alcohol. “A lot of the sites have taken the affirmative approach of dealing with this, but Snapchat isn’t one of them,” said Geragos.
Through their spokesman, Snapchat said they have not yet been served with the lawsuit but regret that people are offended by some of the content. They also expressed support for the “independence” of their partners. Historically, the courts have ruled that internet companies are generally immune from lawsuits based on third party content posted on their sites and/or service, so this case can hold profound ramifications for all internet companies that allow third party content.
As of yet, no hearing date has been set for the case filed at the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.