Two Tribal Nations Sue Social Media Companies Over Youth Suicides

From Native News Online comes this article on a new lawsuit, filed by the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and the Spirit Lake Tribe in North Dakota, asserting tech giants like Meta are contributors to disproportionately high suicide rates among Native America youth: 

Two tribal nations have filed a lawsuit accusing major social media companies of contributing to disproportionately high rates of suicide among Native American youth. 

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County court, names Meta Platforms (Facebook and Instagram), Snap Inc. (Snapchat), ByteDance (TikTok), and Alphabet (YouTube and Google) as defendants.

Chairperson Lonna Jackson-Street of the Spirit Lake Tribe in North Dakota emphasized the vulnerability of Native youth to the addictive features of social media platforms, citing historic teen suicide rates and mental health issues across Indian Country. . . . 

The lawsuit describes the defendants’ actions as a deliberate effort causing long-term harm to the tribes and their members, diverting resources away from education, cultural preservation, and social programs. . . . 

Native Americans experience higher rates of suicide compared to any other racial demographic in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Mental health care accessibility is a challenge, compounded by historical colonization and social stigma.

The law firm Robins Kaplan LLP filed the first-of-its-kind lawsuit on behalf of the Spirit Lake Tribe in North Dakota and the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin.”

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