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Snapchat Lawsuits

Snapchat, the popular social media platform operated by Snap Inc., has faced a series of Snapchat lawsuits in recent years alleging that its design features and inadequate safety measures have made it a breeding ground for “sextortion” and other forms of extortion and exploitation, particularly targeting minors. These legal actions have highlighted significant concerns parents have about this app’s responsibility to protect its young users from predators who misuse its features. The consequences when this happens can be tragic.


Snapchat, launched in 2011, quickly gained popularity, especially among younger demographics, for its unique features, such as disappearing messages, which kids love for obvious reasons, and multimedia sharing.

These same features are the problem. They create opportunities for misuse. The app’s ephemeral nature, where messages vanish after being viewed, can give users a false sense of security and privacy. Predators who manipulate minors into sharing explicit content have exploited this perceived privacy. This content can then be saved without the sender’s knowledge and used for extortion.

Allegations Against Snap

Multiple lawsuits have alleged that Snapchat’s design is inherently dangerous and that the company has failed to implement adequate safety measures to protect minors. These lawsuits argue that Snapchat’s features, such as disappearing messages, public default profiles, and inadequate age verification systems, create an environment where predators can easily target and exploit young users. Snapchat lawsuits argue that Snapchat’s design facilitates harmful interactions by allowing adults to contact minors with little oversight.

Legal Theories and Claims

The legal claims against Snap Inc. are rooted in product liability, negligence, and failure to warn. Plaintiffs argue that Snapchat’s design is defective and unreasonably dangerous, particularly for its young user base. The Snapchat lawsuits contend that Snap knew or should have known (but lawyer are really alleging they knew) about the risks posed by its platform but failed to take adequate steps to mitigate those risks.

One key aspect of these legal battles is the allegation that Snapchat failed to warn users and their parents about the potential dangers associated with its use. This includes not adequately informing them about the risks of sextortion and providing insufficient tools for parents to monitor and control their children’s activities on the platform. The plaintiffs argue that these omissions constitute a failure to warn, making Snap Inc. liable for the resulting harm.

Impact of Design Features

Snapchat’s features are central to the allegations. The app’s disappearing messages are intended to provide a sense of privacy, but this has backfired by creating an avenue for predators to exploit. Young users, trusting the platform’s promises of privacy, may share sensitive content, only to later discover that these messages can be saved and used against them. This has led to cases where minors are coerced into further exploitation under the threat of having their explicit images exposed.

Additionally, the “My Eyes Only” feature, which allows users to hide content behind a passcode, has been criticized for enabling users to conceal potentially harmful content from parents and guardians. That is largely the point of the app for many kids who know their parents monitor their phones. But this feature, while intended to offer privacy, can also protect illegal and exploitative activities from detection.

Regulatory and Legal Challenges

The lawsuits against Snap Inc. are putting a spotlight on the  broader regulatory and legal challenges related to social media platforms and child protection. Federal laws like the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the PROTECT Our Children Act impose certain obligations on companies to safeguard minors’ information and report instances of exploitation. Snapchat lawsuits argue that Snap has failed to meet these obligations. The result in too many cases is the exploitation of minors on its platform.

One significant legal argument is negligence per se, where plaintiffs claim that Snap violated specific statutory duties designed to protect minors. For instance, by allegedly failing to report known cases of child exploitation and by not implementing robust age verification systems, Snap is accused of breaching federal regulations meant to safeguard children online.

Impact of Snapchat Lawsuits

The financial implications for Snap Inc. could be substantial. Plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages, which could amount to millions of dollars. These lawsuits also threaten to tarnish Snapchat’s reputation, potentially affecting its user base and revenue. Moreover, the legal battles could help save other children – forcing Snap to implement significant changes to its app to enhance safety and comply with regulatory standards.

Are Snapchat lawsuits going to bankrupt the company?  No. There are not thousands of cases where tragedy occurs that can be attributed back to what Snap is doing with this product.  But even one preventable tragedy is too many when Snap just has to make simple changes to better protect children.

Example Snapchat Lawsuit

A new Snapchat lawsuit was filed in May 2024 that tragically demonstrates how Snapchat can cause tragic consequences.

In early 2023, a 13-year-old boy from Sumter, South Carolina, was a vibrant and promising young individual. He excelled in academics, enjoyed sports like baseball and karate, and had a passion for playing the saxophone. He was one of a zillion American teenagers who used Snapchat to connect with friends and share moments of his life.

An adult predator, posing as a girl of similar age, initiated contact with him on the platform. The predator’s approach was initially friendly, building trust and rapport. Over time, the interaction turned sinister as the predator manipulated the boy into sending explicit images.

Once the predator obtained these images, the nature of the interaction changed drastically. The predator began threatening to share the explicit content with the boy’s friends, family, and social media contacts unless he complied with further demands. This form of blackmail, known as sextortion, exploits the victim’s fear of exposure to exert control and extract compliance.

The child was overwhelmed by the shame and fear instilled by the predator’s threats. He felt trapped, unable to see a way out of the torment he was enduring. Despite his young age and promising future, the pressure and fear of exposure drove him to a state of deep emotional distress.  He took his own life. He was found at his home, leaving behind a devastated family and a shocked community. His tragic death underscored the severe impact of online exploitation and the vulnerabilities faced by young users on social media platforms.

Following the tragedy, the family filed a lawsuit against Snap. The lawsuit alleges that Snapchat’s design is inherently dangerous for minors, incorporating features that facilitate exploitation by predators. The family claims that Snap Inc. failed to implement adequate safety measures, such as robust age verification and effective parental controls, which could have prevented the exploitation and subsequent death of their son.