A proposed class action contends that the preponderance of “challenges” on TikTok has caused a wave of destruction, theft and violence in school districts across numerous states.
The seven-page lawsuit, filed in New York on September 2, says that school districts have incurred “increased costs and expenses” as a result of TikTok’s “challenges,” many of which are school-related and involve, for instance, vandalizing and stealing items from restrooms and cafeterias.
The case says these challenges, which invite users to perform, record and share various acts, are promoted to school-aged children through TikTok’s algorithms based on their age, likes and activity.
Per the suit, school districts have incurred additional labor costs as a result of having to divert resources from instructional activities toward notifying parents and guardians, assigning personnel to escort students to restrooms “to prevent vandalism of plumbing and other infrastructure,” adding more supervision in common areas, and repaying fire, emergency and law enforcement departments for school visits in response to TikTok challenges.
Non-labor costs incurred by school districts plagued by TikTok challenges include “replacing and repairing stolen and damaged equipment, infrastructure, and property, such as sinks, soap dispensers, trash cans and toilets,” the case adds.
As the suit tells it, TikTok’s promotion of challenges effectively “incentivizes” students to engage in “destructive and deleterious behavior and conduct,” in particular by “appealing to [students’] desires for acceptance and importance amongst their peers.”
According to the lawsuit, TikTok has repeatedly denied responsibility for challenge-related “destruction and violence,” yet “continues to deliver challenges to students.” The filing also alleges the short-form video platform has “developed features to limit parents from monitoring and preventing underaged use.”
“Though TikTok’s challenges were initially benign, the pursuit of growth and users at all costs has made it a destructive force within School Districts,” the complaint says.
Specific TikTok challenges mentioned in the complaint include one that supposedly called for students to “flip off” authority figures in their schools, while another encouraged students to physically slap their teachers and post videos of it, the case says. Other challenges involve “sexual assault on school grounds,” according to the filing.
When TikTok removes certain challenges “[i]n response to media outcry,” school districts are “left picking up the pieces, until the next challenge,” the lawsuit says.
The case looks to represent incorporated and unincorporated school districts in New York, Pennsylvania, Idaho, New Mexico, Utah, North Carolina and Connecticut who have incurred costs and fees as a result of school-related TikTok challenges within the applicable statute of limitations period.
Get class action lawsuit news sent to your inbox – sign up for ClassAction.org’s free weekly newsletter here.
Camp Lejeune residents now have the opportunity to claim compensation for harm suffered from contaminated water.