Connect with us

Tech

Social Media Faces Lawsuits From Schools Over Mental Health Effects

Published

on

social media

SEATTLE, Wash. – The big U.S. social media firms, like the cigarette, oil, gun, opioid, and vape businesses before them, are now facing lawsuits launched by public agencies seeking to hold them accountable for a massive societal problem – in this case, the mental health crisis among youngsters.

However, the new cases — one filed by a public school district in Seattle last week, another by a suburban district on Monday, and almost definitely more to follow — face an uncertain legal path.

Next month, the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments on how federal law protects the computer industry from such claims when social media algorithms push potentially dangerous information.

Even if the Supreme Court grants permission for lawsuits like Seattle’s, the district faces difficulty showing the industry’s liability.

And the tech industry says there are many ways in which the effects of social media on teens’ mental health are different from, say, how big pharma promotes opioid addiction.

social media

There Are Many Ways Social Media Effects Teens

“The fundamental premise is that the tech business is to blame for teens’ emotional state because they recommended content that has caused emotional injury,” vice president of tech industry trade organization NetChoice, said. “It would be ludicrous to sue Barnes & Noble because a staff member recommended a book that caused emotional harm or upset a youngster.” But that is precisely what this lawsuit does.”

Seattle Public Schools sued the digital titans behind TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat on Friday, arguing they had created a public nuisance by marketing to youngsters. The Kent School District in the Seattle suburbs followed suit on Monday.

The districts blame the companies for mental health and behavioral disorders such as anxiety, depression, disordered eating, and cyberbullying, making it making difficult to educate students; and forcing schools to take steps such as hiring more mental health professionals, developing lesson plans about the effects of social media, and providing additional teacher training.social media

Unprecidented Life Challenges

“Young people everywhere — face unprecedented learning and life challenges that are exacerbated by the negative effects of increased screen time, potentially addictive social media properties,” Seattle Superintendent Brent Jones said in an emailed statement Tuesday. “We hope this action will help reverse this trend for our students.”

The Communications Decency Act of 1996 protects online businesses from being held responsible for what other people post on their platforms. But the complaints say that the rule, which was made before there were any social media platforms, doesn’t protect the tech giants in this case because their algorithms favor harmful information.

This is also the issue in Gonzalez v. Google, YouTube’s parent firm, which the Supreme Court will hear on February 21. In another instance, the family of an American lady slain in an Islamic State group attack in Paris in 2015 claims that YouTube’s algorithms helped the terror group recruit.

If the Supreme Court rules that digital corporations can be held accountable in such cases, school districts will still have to prove that social media was to blame. Seattle’s lawsuit says that between 2009 and 2019, the number of students who said they felt “so unhappy or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more in a row” that they stopped doing some of their usual activities rose by 30%.

However, Szabo noted that Seattle’s graduation rates have been rising since 2019 when many youngsters relied on social media to stay in touch with their pals during the pandemic. He said that the number of people who graduate from high school would be going up if social media were so bad for the district’s educational efforts.

“The complaint focuses solely on how social media damages children, and there may be evidence of that,” said Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University in Silicon Valley. “However, there is a lot of evidence that social media improves teenagers and other children. We don’t know what the distress rate would be like if social media didn’t exist. The distress rate might probably be higher rather than lower.”

social media

Company’s Care About The Safety Of Its Users

The companies have said that they care about the safety of their users, especially children. They have tools that make it easier for parents to know who their children are talking to. They have also made it easier for people to find mental health resources on social media, like the new 988 crisis hotline. They have also made it easier to check a user’s age and set limits on how much time they can spend on their devices.

“When teens join Instagram, we immediately switch their profiles to private, and we send reminders encouraging them to take regular breaks,” Meta’s global head of safety, said “We do not allow content that promotes suicide, self-harm, or eating disorders, and we identify over 99% of the content we remove or take action on before it is reported to us.”

Frances Haugen, a Facebook whistleblower, released internal studies in 2021 that showed the company knew Instagram was bad for kids because it hurt their body image and made eating disorders and suicidal thoughts worse. She claimed the platform put profits ahead of safety and concealed its research from investors and the general public.

Josh Golin, the executive director of Fairplay, an organization that protects children from commercialization and marketing, says that even if social media helps some students, it doesn’t make up for the huge harm it does to many others.

“The mental health expenses to students are astronomical, as is the amount of time schools have to spend monitoring and responding to social media drama,” Golin added. “It is ludicrous that schools are liable for the devastation created by these social media sites to young people. Nobody is witnessing the kinds of cumulative effects that social media is having on school districts.”

Both claims were filed in the United States District Court, but they are based on state public nuisance law – a wide, ill-defined legal notion with origins dating back to 13th century England. In Washington, a public nuisance is “any illegal act and every failure to do a duty” that “annoys, hurts, or threatens the safety, health, comfort, or rest of a large number of people.”

social media

Tabacco Industries Under Constant Fire

Most notably, public nuisance allegations aided the tobacco industry in reaching a $246 billion, 25-year settlement with the states in 1998. However, state, city, county, and tribal governments have used public nuisance legislation to hold oil firms accountable for climate change, the gun business for gun violence, the pharmaceutical sector for the opioid crisis, and vaping companies like Juul accountable for teen vaping.

The majority of the litigation is still continuing. Juul Labs agreed to resolve thousands of lawsuits, including 1,400 from school districts, towns, and counties, for an estimated $1.2 billion last month.

The Seattle lawsuit could lead to many changes, raising questions about whether it is right to solve big social problems in court instead of through laws. However, the school system faces little risk because the complaint was brought on a contingency basis, which means the company is only paid if the action is successful.

Jolina Cuaresma, senior counsel for privacy and technology policy at Common Sense Media, which works to make media safer for children, said she was pleased to see a school district file a public nuisance lawsuit against internet corporations.

“People have grown impatient of waiting for Congress to act,” she remarked.

SOURCE – (AP)

 

Continue Reading

Business

OpenAI CEO Warns That ‘Societal Misalignments’ Could Make Artificial Intelligence Dangerous

Published

on

openai

DUBAI, UAE — The CEO of ChatGPT-maker OpenAI stated on Tuesday that the hazards that keep him awake at night about artificial intelligence are the “very subtle societal misalignments” that might cause the systems to wreak havoc.

Sam Altman, addressing via video call from the World Governments Summit in Dubai, reaffirmed his proposal to establish an organization similar to the International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor AI, which is expected to advance faster than the world expects.

openai

OpenAI CEO Warns That ‘Societal Misalignments’ Could Make Artificial Intelligence Dangerous

“There are some elements in there that make it easy to imagine what may go wrong. And I’m not particularly interested in the killer robots walking down the street causing things to go wrong,” Altman remarked. “I’m much more interested in the very subtle societal misalignments where we just have these systems out in society and through no particular ill intention, things just go horribly wrong.”

However, Altman emphasized that the AI sector, including OpenAI, should not be responsible for developing industry laws.

“We are still in the middle of a lot of discussions. So, you know, everyone in the world is holding a conference. “Everyone has an idea, a policy paper, and that’s fine,” Altman explained. “I think we’re still at a time where debate is needed and healthy, but at some point in the next few years, we have to move towards an action plan with real buy-in around the world.”

OpenAI, a San Francisco-based artificial intelligence startup, is a leader in the industry. Microsoft has invested billions of dollars in OpenAI. The Associated Press has reached a partnership with OpenAI to grant them access to its news archive. Meanwhile, The New York Times sued OpenAI and Microsoft for using its content without permission to train OpenAI’s chatbots.

openai

OpenAI CEO Warns That ‘Societal Misalignments’ Could Make Artificial Intelligence Dangerous

Altman’s success with OpenAI has made him the public face of generative AI’s rapid commercialization and anxieties about what the new technology may bring.

The UAE, an authoritarian federation of seven hereditary sheikhdoms, shows evidence of this risk. Speech remains strictly regulated. These constraints impact the flow of reliable information — the same details that AI programmes like ChatGPT employ as machine-learning systems to deliver user replies.

The Emirates also boasts the Abu Dhabi corporation G42, led by the country’s strong national security adviser. Experts believe G42 has the world’s leading Arabic-language artificial intelligence model. The corporation has been accused of spying due to its involvement with a mobile phone app identified as spyware. It has also faced allegations that it secretly collected genetic material from Americans for the Chinese government.

Due to American concerns, G42 has announced that it will break connections with Chinese suppliers. However, the conversation with Altman, hosted by the UAE’s Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Omar al-Olama, addressed none of the local issues.

openai

OpenAI CEO Warns That ‘Societal Misalignments’ Could Make Artificial Intelligence Dangerous

Altman, for his part, said he was encouraged to see schools embrace AI as critical for the future, despite teachers’ fears that pupils might use it to compose papers. However, he stressed that artificial intelligence is still in its early stages.

“I think the reason is the current technology that we have is like… that very first mobile with a black-and-white screen,” said Altman. “So, give us some time. But, in a few more years, I believe it will be far better than it is now. And in a decade, it should be rather extraordinary.”

SOURCE – (AP)

Continue Reading

Business

Amazon’s Ring To Shutter Video-Sharing Program Popular With Police

Published

on

amazon

LONDON — Amazon cancelled its acquisition of robot vacuum firm iRobot on Monday, citing “undue and disproportionate regulatory hurdles” after the European Union opposed the transaction.

The firms announced in a joint statement that they were disappointed but agreed to end the acquisition. The merger drew antitrust attention on both sides of the Atlantic, especially in Europe, where authorities investigating competition issues were scheduled to make a final decision by February 14.

Amazon said that in 2022, it would buy iRobot, the producer of the circular-shaped Roomba vacuum, for $1.7 billion cash. However, the deal’s value decreased by 15% after iRobot took on extra debt.

Amazon will pay the Bedford, Massachusetts-based business a previously agreed-upon termination fee of $94 million, iRobot said in a separate release, which also revealed that it would lay off around 31% of its workforce and fire its CEO.

ring

Amazon’s Ring To Shutter Video-Sharing Program Popular With Police

The European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm and top antitrust watchdog warned Amazon last year of its “preliminary view” that the iRobot acquisition would reduce industry competition.

While British antitrust regulators cleared the deal in June, the Federal Trade Commission in the United States continued investigating.

The European Commission waited to respond to a request for comment. It was concerned that Amazon would minimise the exposure of an iRobot competitor’s product or restrict access to certain labels, such as “Amazon’s Choice,” which could draw more customers.

Last year, the commission said that Amazon may have discovered ways to boost the expenses for iRobot’s competitors to advertise and sell their products on its platform.

Amazon’s chief counsel, David Zapolsky, slammed authorities, saying consumers would miss out on “faster innovation and more competitive prices.”

“Mergers and acquisitions like this help companies like iRobot better compete in the global marketplace, particularly against companies, and from countries, that aren’t subject to the same regulatory requirements in fast-moving technology segments like robotics,” he added.

ring

Amazon’s Ring To Shutter Video-Sharing Program Popular With Police

He also pointed out that “undue and disproportionate regulatory hurdles discourage entrepreneurs, who should be able to see acquisition as one path to success, and that hurts both consumers and competition— the very things that regulators say they’re trying to protect.”

Now that the purchase has been called off, iRobot has announced a restructuring strategy to stabilise the company. The corporation plans to lay off approximately 350 people as part of these reforms.

Colin Angle, iRobot’s chairman and CEO, will also step down. Glen Weinstein, the company’s executive vice president and chief legal officer, will become interim CEO.

Consumer rights groups had expressed worries about the Amazon-iRobot merger, claiming it would increase the ecommerce giant’s domination in the smart home industry.

Amazon has previously acquired several smart home firms, including Blink, Ring, and Eero, a mesh-networking Wi-Fi company.

ring

Amazon’s Ring To Shutter Video-Sharing Program Popular With Police

This is the latest example of a partnership between US corporations that failed after being scrutinised by European regulators.

Adobe abandoned its $20 billion acquisition of online design business Figma last year due to antitrust concerns raised by the EU and the UK. After losing legal battles with antitrust officials in Europe and the United States, biotech giant Illumina was forced to cancel its $7.1 billion acquisition of cancer-screening business Grail.

SOURCE – (CNN)

Continue Reading

Business

AMAZON: Bid To Buy Roomba Maker IRobot Is Called Off Amid Pushback In Europe

Published

on

amazon

LONDON — Amazon cancelled its acquisition of robot vacuum firm iRobot on Monday, citing “undue and disproportionate regulatory hurdles” after the European Union opposed the transaction.

The firms announced in a joint statement that they were disappointed but agreed to end the acquisition. The merger drew antitrust attention on both sides of the Atlantic, especially in Europe, where authorities investigating competition issues were scheduled to make a final decision by February 14.

Amazon said that in 2022, it would buy iRobot, the producer of the circular-shaped Roomba vacuum, for $1.7 billion cash. However, the deal’s value decreased by 15% after iRobot took on extra debt.

amazon

AMAZON: Bid To Buy Roomba Maker IRobot Is Called Off Amid Pushback In Europe

Amazon will pay the Bedford, Massachusetts-based business a previously agreed-upon termination fee of $94 million, iRobot said in a separate release, which also revealed that it would lay off around 31% of its workforce and fire its CEO.

The European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm and top antitrust watchdog warned Amazon last year of its “preliminary view” that the iRobot acquisition would reduce industry competition.

While British antitrust regulators cleared the deal in June, the Federal Trade Commission in the United States continued investigating.

The European Commission waited to respond to a request for comment. It was concerned that Amazon would minimise the exposure of an iRobot competitor’s product or restrict access to certain labels, such as “Amazon’s Choice,” which could draw more customers.

Last year, the commission said that Amazon may have discovered ways to boost the expenses for iRobot’s competitors to advertise and sell their products on its platform.

amazon

AMAZON: Bid To Buy Roomba Maker IRobot Is Called Off Amid Pushback In Europe

Amazon’s chief counsel, David Zapolsky, slammed authorities, saying consumers would miss out on “faster innovation and more competitive prices.”

“Mergers and acquisitions like this help companies like iRobot better compete in the global marketplace, particularly against companies, and from countries, that aren’t subject to the same regulatory requirements in fast-moving technology segments like robotics,” he added.

He also pointed out that “undue and disproportionate regulatory hurdles discourage entrepreneurs, who should be able to see acquisition as one path to success, and that hurts both consumers and competition— the very things that regulators say they’re trying to protect.”

Now that the purchase has been called off, iRobot has announced a restructuring strategy to stabilise the company. The corporation plans to lay off approximately 350 people as part of these reforms.

Colin Angle, iRobot’s chairman and CEO, will also step down. Glen Weinstein, the company’s executive vice president and chief legal officer, will become interim CEO.

Consumer rights groups had expressed worries about the Amazon-iRobot merger, claiming it would increase the ecommerce giant’s domination in the smart home industry.

amazon

AMAZON: Bid To Buy Roomba Maker IRobot Is Called Off Amid Pushback In Europe

Amazon has previously acquired several smart home firms, including Blink, Ring, and Eero, a mesh-networking Wi-Fi company.

This is the latest example of a partnership between US corporations that failed after being scrutinised by European regulators.

Adobe abandoned its $20 billion acquisition of online design business Figma last year due to antitrust concerns raised by the EU and the UK. After losing legal battles with antitrust officials in Europe and the United States, biotech giant Illumina was forced to cancel its $7.1 billion acquisition of cancer-screening business Grail.

SOURCE – (AP)

Continue Reading

Trending