The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

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Bucks County DA Sues Social Media Firms

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

The Bucks County Commissioners and District Attorney are jointly suing big social media platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and TikTok for “worsening” anxiety and depression in younger people.

Bucks County is joining the growing number of schools and families that are taking legal action against social media platforms and is believed to be the first county in America to file a lawsuit against social media.

Matthew Weintraub, the District Attorney for Bucks County, has brought this case to act in the name of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania claiming the platforms have violated the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.

According to the lawsuit, “All are addictive because of the neurological chemical dopamine, which is released with the pulsing colorful notification sounds and vibrations associated with a ‘reward.’”

These rewards are things such as getting a like, snapping your friend, liking a post or scrolling to the next one. Elena Solovyeva, a 19-yearold English major from Warick shares, “I kid you not, sometimes I am so bored that I will scroll through Office or Parks and Recreation show clips that they have on Snapchat. Even though I have watched both shows and I don’t even care to see some parts of it again.”

These apps benefit the most when a large number of people use their platforms for an extended amount of time in order to maximize their advertising revenue.

Bobbilyn Davis, a Bucks Neuroscience Major from Morrisville tells us how “This mechanism lights up your dopamine pathway the same way gambling or even illicit drugs does. But the difference between drugs, gambling and this social media mechanism, is that this is widely available, to almost all ages.”

When these dopamine “hits” start to fade, users may feel compelled to spend another hour or so on their devices, despite whether the app truly makes them happy.

“I can’t imagine the damage being done to developing brains that can’t but help to incessantly scroll and scroll looking for just the right spark to get the firing of dopamine feel-good across the brain,” Davis confines.

Thomas Burke, an 18-yearold Computer Science major from Morrisville says, “I will admit that I use social media way too often than I should. I started using social media in elementary school, but only watched things like youtube where I was watching other people’s content and posts, but I never really liked the idea of posting myself online.”

Humans are social creatures by habitat who thrive off of communicating and connecting with others. Connecting with others allows those to feel a sense of security and belonging and overall help one’s mental health.

But we have faced a world where most of our connections are done behind closed doors. Dr.Shawn Queeney, a Communications professor at Bucks, states, “This has been a problem humans have always faced, how do I connect, will people like me and how do I work well with others? You have people who want to connect with others but then they’re doing it on a private browser that’s controlled by advertisements.”

Burke also shared, “I don’t necessarily like using social media for communication but most people my age will mainly use it to communicate so I am kinda forced to use it as well.”

This basic human need is even larger in adolescents, whose minds are still developing. The lawsuit claims, “Social apps hijack a tween and teen compulsion – to connect – that can be even more powerful than hunger or greed.”

Another huge concern is the algorithm on these social media apps and how they displayed content to children.

Depending on the type of content a user views, likes, comments or even simply views others’ comments allows the platform that gathers enough information to alter one’s feed. “I have used Tiktok since it was called and the change is flabbergasting.

People’s mental health were less in danger when the app was used just for lip syncing,” Solovyeva also adds. “Now the algorithm learns what the user likes and dislikes. There is now content on the app that ranges from sports to politics to eating disorders. For young, impressionable minds, this can be viewed as dangerous since they are learning certain beliefs and are only being immersed by information from that one side.”

Bucks County offers and funds many mental health resources, but service providers have been struggling to keep up with the increased number of youth who need these services. The lawsuit is looking for compensation from these companies for these effects on the younger generation and for them to change their methods.