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Snap suspends two anonymous messaging apps after cyberbullying lawsuit

Snapchat has suspended two third-party apps that allow users to send anonymous messages on the platform. The move follows a lawsuit filed this week by the mother of an Oregon teen who died by suicide last year, allegedly after months of receiving bullying messages through Yolo and LMK. The Q&A apps use Snap Kit, a suite of tools that lets developers connect to Snapchat.

“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,” a Snap spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times.

Yolo and LMK are developed by third-party developers, and they integrate with Snapchat via its Snap Kit platform. LMK lets users create polls and Q&As for their Snapchat friends to answer, while Yolo is focused on Q&As. Both services let users send messages anonymously which facilitates cyberbullying to such a degree that the apps should be considered dangerous, the suit alleges.

Last year, when Carson Bride was found dead by his family, his phone history showed that he’d searched how to “Reveal YOLO Username Online” that same day. The lawsuit alleges that over a period of several months he had been receiving anonymous bullying messages, which made sexual comments and taunted him over incidents at school.

Both apps make various promises about protection against bullying on their platforms, the LA Times notes. Yolo reportedly warns users during setup that it has “no tolerance for objectionable content or abusive users,” while an FAQ from LMK says it goes “to great lengths to protect our community” with a combination of automated and human moderation. The plaintiffs argue that the two apps violate consumer protection laws by failing to enforce their own terms of service.

According to the suit, Yolo promised a zero-tolerance approach to abusive behavior and bullying, but allowed abuse toward the teen to persist for months. LMK made similar promises about handling abuse.

The plaintiffs argue that, by not removing the apps from its platform, Snap also didn’t stick to its policies. They called for anonymous messaging apps to be deemed dangerous products because of how they facilitate bullying. The plaintiffs aim to represent all Snapchat, Yolo and LMK users as part of a class action and they’re seeking damages.

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