CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Clarksville-Montgomery County School System (CMCSS) has taken a bold step by filing; a lawsuit against major social media companies, citing damages and a growing mental health crisis among students.
The lawsuit seeks actionable accountability, tools, and resources to address the lack of protections, monitors, controls, and cooperation needed to safeguard children.
Companies named in the lawsuit include Meta, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Google, WhatsApp, and YouTube.
Frantz Law Group in California in collaboration with Lewis Thomason in Tennessee, filed the lawsuit on behalf of CMCSS. The legal action is one of the first of its kind in the state.
Rebecca Spencer, a parent with three children in the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System, understands the challenges of raising kids in the era of social media. She believes that parents, rather than educators, should bear the responsibility of regulating their children's use of social media platforms.
"That starts getting on a real fine line for freedom of speech. People have the right to say whatever it is they want to say, unfortunately, now, it's just on a big platform," Spencer said.
Spencer closely monitors her children's social media activities, asserting that parental control is key.
"I'm consistently over-top of them when they’re on their social media platforms," she said. She suggested that if electronic devices are not desired in schools, they should be prohibited altogether.
Representing the school district in its case against major social media companies is lead attorney William Shinoff of the Frantz Law Group. Shinoff emphasized the urgent need for safer digital environments for children, suggesting changes to algorithms as one possible solution.
He highlighted the significant increase in mental health issues, threats of school violence, cyberbullying, and exposure to inappropriate content within the district, placing the blame on the companies for their lack of adequate protection measures.
"We're not trying to get rid of social media. There are definitely benefits to social media. But when a consumer is a child, you need to take part of that and make sure that your product is safe," Shinoff explained.
The district hopes this legal action will prompt social media giants to implement enhanced protections for children.
Shinoff said the school district isn’t spending any funds by filing the lawsuit. Shinoff and McCarty said other Tennessee school districts interested in joining the lawsuit may contact them at: email@example.com or at 865-541-5256.