Canton man suing YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and more after son nearly dies attempting a video trend

Kids use FaceBook app on cell phones.
Kids use FaceBook app on cell phones.(25 News)
Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 8:59 PM CDT
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PEORIA (25 News Now) - A Canton father of three has filed a lawsuit against several popular social media companies alleging “dangerous and gender based content” being pushed onto his kids.

Damian Johnson is filing the suit through the ‘Social Media Victims Law Center’. They are a Seattle based firm focused on holding social media companies accountable.

The lawsuit claims Johnson’s three kids became addicted to YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok without his knowledge. He claims that their addictions led to mental health issues including depression, and a near death experience for his youngest son.

Johnson claims his youngest son, who started watching YouTube videos unsupervised at the age of 10, attempted a ‘video trend’ on the streaming platform called “I Killed Myself Prank.” Johnson said in the lawsuit that his son tried to make it look like he hung himself in the closet in order to video tape his sisters response. But his sister found him in the closet actually hanging before screaming for help. The lawsuit states Johnson held his son up while the older brother cut the boy down with a knife.

According to the documents, the boy was in a coma for three days and was able to return home after 10 days in the hospital.

Johnson’s daughter was under the age of 10 when she opened her first FaceBook account, according to the father. The documents said she eventually opened multiple FaceBook, TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram accounts unbeknownst to her father. The lawsuit alleges she became addicted to these social media accounts. During the course of her social media usage, the lawsuit alleges she received direct messages from strangers soliciting sex and offering money for explicit photos.

The lawsuit claims the social media companies pushed quote “dangerous race and gender based content to the three children.” Johnson’s oldest son opened his first YouTube account at the age of 11, and “gradually became addicted to YouTube’s social media content.” The lawsuit alleges that the “majority” of the videos were directed to him or selected by YouTube’s algorithm and contained graphic gun and gang violence.

The lawsuit states Johnson’s son “has no interest in guns or gangs, yet Instagram and TikTok would often direct him to gun and gang-themed content. The suit alleges that Meta, YouTube, and TikTok’s algorithms pushed disproportionately violent and sexual content to African American users.”

The lawsuit also blames these social media platforms for Johnson’s oldest son “getting in trouble at home and at school and suffering mental health harms” as a result.

The lawsuit states Johnson’s kids created all of their social media accounts without his knowledge or consent.

The lawsuit was filed by the family’s attorney Matthew P. Bergman in the Central District of Illinois.

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