One day after the family of Carson Bride filed suit against Snap Inc., accusing it of failing to protect the 16-year-old from cyberbullying, the Santa Monica-based company said it would suspend the anonymous messaging apps — YOLO and LMK — Bride was using before he killed himself.
"In light of the serious allegations raised by the lawsuit, and out of an abundance of caution for the safety of the Snapchat community, we are suspending both YOLO and LMK's Snap Kit integrations while we investigate these claims," the company said in a statement.
Bride endured scores of lewd, mean-spirited messages from anonymous senders via the two apps on Snapchat, according to the lawsuit. Both apps have been integrated into Snapchat since 2019 through the company's Snap Kit software.
Snap representatives noted that Snap Kit apps like YOLO and LMK are not a default part of Snapchat, but rather must be downloaded by users.
They added Snap sets safety standards that Snap Kit partners must comply with, which include ostensible safeguards against cyberbullying of the sort to which Bride was subjected. Among other charges, the lawsuit alleges Snap fraudulently misrepresented its safeguards regarding Snap Kit, claiming the company did not live up to its own standards.
Correction: An earlier version of this post said Snapchat had banned the apps. YOLO and LMK have been suspended.
The family of 16-year-old Carson Bride alleges Snap Inc., the Santa Monica-based parent company of Snapchat, has been negligent in safeguarding against cyberbullying after the Oregon teen committed suicide last year.
Carson's mother Kristin Bride, who is leading the lawsuit, filed on Monday and asked the U.S. District Court for Northern California to consider the suit a class action on behalf of 93 million Snapchat users in the U.S.
Carson endured scores of lewd, mean-spirited messages from anonymous senders via the anonymous apps YOLO and LMK on Snapchat, according to the lawsuit. Both apps have been integrated into Snapchat since 2019 through Snap's Snap Kit software.
Lawyers said Carson attempted, in vain, to request the apps enforce their anti-bullying safeguards, such as banning those users. But it never happened. He took his own life in 2020 after being unable to stop cyberbullying.
"Clearly, no one was policing YOLO when my son received hundreds of abusive messages during the first 3 weeks of June. These offenders may very well be continuing their bullying practices, especially now that they know the power of their words," Bride's mother wrote shortly after her son's death, according to the filing.
The lawsuit said Snap Inc. should have foreseen the harm it could cause teens and that YOLO and LMK's very design allowed for it. All three apps are accused of failing to safeguard against cyberbullying.
Bride's family is seeking financial damages in excess of $5 million and the immediate discontinuation of YOLO and LMK. The New York-based anti-bullying nonprofit Tyler Clementi Foundation joined in the suit. They are also demanding Snap remove all third-party apps that fail to set up appropriate safeguards from Snapchat.
Neither Snap, nor L.A. based YOLO or Bay area-based LMK replied to requests for comment.
Carson's mother, according to the suit, unsuccessfully attempted over many months to contact YOLO about her son's suicide. Nobody responded.
"If you create an app which provides a platform for the anonymous bullying of vulnerable teens, the very least you can do is take accountability and assist the parents of your app's victims so that more YOLO deaths do not occur," she wrote.
Lawyers argued Snap Inc. knew about the dangers of anonymous apps. They cited Sarahah, another anonymous-messaging app that was banned from the Apple and Android store after reported incidents of cyberbullying were made public. They also pointed to numerous complaints about cyberbullying on YOLO from users via the Apple App Store.
According to analytics firm Apptopia, YOLO has been downloaded over 53 million times, about 33 million of which have been in the U.S. LMK has been downloaded 7 million times, 5 million domestically. Snap recently disclosed it had 280 million monthly users, the majority of whom are between the ages of 13 and 24.
For Snap, the lawsuit comes on the heels of a separate court ruling that found the company liable for the death of users of a Snapchat feature that shows one's velocity.
Six Los Angeles-based startups demoed apps spanning digital health care to a digital wine marketplace during Snap's Yellow Accelerator demo day.
The 14-week program — this year completely virtual — comes with a $150,000 investment to companies at the intersection of tech and creativity. It concluded Thursday with presentations from each founder team.
Here's what the L.A. companies have been up to since joining the program:
Elly Health, a digital health startup for patients with chronic disease, closed a $1.3 million pre-seed round led by Bayer, Google, Morgan Stanley and Snap. It's also in talks with pharmaceutical companies Johnson and Johnson and Bristol Myers Squibb about partnerships. The app was created by Simon Holland and Nikhil Pooviah, a former cancer doctor whose father struggled to sift through the piles of information about Parkinson's when he was diagnosed with the disease.
Pooviah's solution was a "smart content platform" delivering guided meditations, workout routines and clinician classes through a voice named Elly. The company licenses its platform and the API to life science companies at a monthly fee.
Buying gifts: it's stressful, time consuming and sometimes wasteful. Nicole Emrani Green and Been Green co-founded Givingli, a platform for sending gift cards and digital greeting cards designed by independent artists. The startup is wrapping up a $4 million seed round to build its platform for iOS, Android and desktop users.
Karla Valdivieso founded Kargoo for online shoppers in Latin America looking to purchase goods abroad. The company, founded in 2018, is raising a seed round for its platform that lets users "rent" the extra space in a traveler's suitcase. It connects buyers with verified gig-workers fulfilling deliveries via Kargoo's order tracking platform. The startup boats 16,000 users and a retention rate of 98% — and product requests have only grown during the pandemic.
Santa Monica-based StarNews helps video creators in Africa monetize content through a paid subscription platform offering a cheaper alternative for users online.
"Hundreds of millions of consumers are eager to enjoy this local content but they cannot because mobile data is still very expensive and so are high-end smartphones," said founder and CEO Guy Kamgaing.
StarNews has inked deals with pan-African mobile operators MTN and Orange as well as formed content partnerships with Sony and Universal. The company has closed a seed round and plans to raise a bridge round of up to $2 million by July.
Popcrn's social platform connects freelance creatives to clients and collaborators. About 75% of freelancer photographers use social media to display their work, a survey from the company found. But the process of booking sessions and managing payments remains piecemeal and unorganized, CEO Allan Muteti said.
Muteti has eyes on the $20 billion freelance market, specifically L.A. creatives working in photography, graphic design and modelling. The company — which is currently raising a $500,000 pre-seed round — takes a 10% cut of each in-app booking and down the line plans to sell a premium subscription.
Josh Entman calls himself "wine's biggest fan."
"I'm the friend you call when you're looking for undiscovered, value-driven wines that drink like they're two to three times the price," said the founder of Vinohead, a digital media platform for millennial and Gen-Z wine drinkers.
The app offers a mix of reviews, recommendations, guides and meetups for digital-savvy users to rate and purchase wine — what Entman labels an "e-comm media channel."
This article has been updated to reflect Elly Health's potential pharmaceutical partnerships.
- Snap is Looking for Startups for Its Yellow Accelerator - dot.LA ›
- Snap's Yellow Collabs Partners Reveals New Products - dot.LA ›
- Meet Snap's New Class of Yellow Accelerator Program Startups ... ›
- Here Is Snap's Accelerator Program's 2021 Class of Startups - dot.LA ›