16-year-old sues Snap, Google and Apple after Marine sexually exploited her on Snapchat from age 12
A 16-year-old girl and her mother filed a class action lawsuit against Snap, Apple and Google in California federal court this week, claiming the platforms failed to protect underage users from ‘serious harm’ and transmission of children. Abuse Material (CSAM).
Lawyers representing the girl, identified as LW, argue in the lawsuit that Snap, Snapchat’s parent company, takes a reactive strategy to protect minors from abuse, requiring young people to report their own abuse after they have products.
“The allegations alleged in this case are not against the adult perpetrator – they are against three large technology companies that enable him and others to commit these crimes,” the lawyers wrote in the lawsuit, which Insider reviewed.
Its attorneys have claimed that the “tools and policies” of Snap, Apple and Google are aimed at increasing their wealth rather than protecting the children who use their products and apps.
In LW’s case, an older man named BP started asking her for nude pictures when she was 12. According to the lawsuit, which was filed in California on Monday, he saved his Snapchat photos and videos and shared them with others.
According to the lawsuit, BP, an active duty Marine, admitted to using Snapchat because he knew his messages would be deleted. Following a criminal investigation, he was convicted in military court last year on charges of child pornography and sexual abuse, according to The Washington Post, which first published the story.
According to the lawsuit, Snapchat provides a “safe haven” for child sexual abuse because the app’s self-disappearing communication feature enables “exploitation and predatory behavior.”
A Snapchat spokeswoman told Insider the company couldn’t comment on the ongoing litigation but called the scenario “tragic.”
“Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our community. We use the latest technology and develop our own tools to help us find and remove content that exploits or abuses minors,” the Snapchat spokesperson said, adding that it really does report all identified CSAMs to the National Center for missing and exploited children.
The abuse and grooming at the heart of the complaint occurred over a two-year period, when the victim was between 12 and 16 years old. According to the lawsuit, the man also targeted “many other child” victims.
BP first contacted LW on Instagram in September 2018, when she was 12 years old. The two then communicated via Snapchat, where the man asked the girl to send him nude photos.
According to the lawsuit, when she refused, he sent the victim a nude photo of himself. He “manipulated and pressured” LW to continue providing nude photos until April 15, 2021.
According to her lawyers, if she refused to give a photo, the man would “ridicule and reprimand her”. According to the lawsuit, he also tried to get her to meet him at a hotel or an Airbnb, but she refused. According to the lawsuit, LW told her mother about the grooming and abuse in May last year.