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Snapchat is getting sued because its media partners are posting highly sexual content

Snapchat’s Discover feature is getting hit with a lawsuit.
By Ian Kar
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Even the teens aren’t happy with all the content on Snapchat.

An unnamed 14-year-old filed a class action suit in California against Snapchat over inappropriate images on the ephemeral messaging platform. Specifically, it called out Snapchat Discover, a Snapchat feature where media partners like BuzzFeed, Vice, CNN, Comedy Central, and MTV post content. The teenager and his mother filed the suit on behalf of the 150 million daily active Snapchat users.

The suit cites multiple articles from Vice, BuzzFeed, and Cosmopolitan, with headlines like “I Got High, Blown, and Robbed When I Was A Pizza Delivery Guy,” “F#ck Buddies Talk About How They Kept It Casual,” and “People Share Their Secret Rules for Sex.” The eight articles cited in the suit were all published on Snapchat Discover over a period of just three days (July 1 and July 3, 2016).

“We haven’t been served with a complaint in this lawsuit, but we are sorry if people were offended. Our Discover partners have editorial independence, which is something that we support,” a Snapchat spokesperson told Quartz.

According to the filing, the plaintiff first became aware of inappropriate content on Snapchat after he or she came across a Discover article titled “23 Pictures That Are Too Real If You’ve Ever had Sex With A Penis,” featuring the plaintiff’s favorite Disney characters. A Google search shows the article originated from BuzzFeed.

“The content we share in our Snapchat Discover channel is part of our frank and well-loved coverage of the whole range of human experience and we’re glad our audience enjoys it. The notion that positive, frank, and humorous coverage of sex is obscene could only occur to someone who has literally never looked at the internet,” a BuzzFeed spokesperson told Quartz.

Vice and Cosmopolitan did not immediately respond to Quartz’s request for a comment.

Snapchat is coveted for its young demographic (though it is becoming more popular with the olds), and it’s just beginning to ramp up its advertising business and develop its monetization strategy. The company is internally hoping for $300 million in revenue by the end of 2016, and a lot of that will rely on Snapchat’s relationship with media partners. It’s now faced with the question of whether it will police that content at all in order to keep it a friendly place for its youngest users.

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