Internal Update

Very Law’s weekly news article

Now state prosecutors are investigating the effect social media has on children and Congress has called for hearings regarding this issue.

At Very Law, we want to make sure everyone is updated about everything going on in the legal world. Here are some of the latest news stories you need to know.

Schools in Seattle are suing tech companies for poor mental health in youths

Social media has a profound effect on young people today. So much so that President Joe Biden made a statement that Congress should hold Big Tech accountable for facilitating the sharing of dangerous content on social media that affects the mental health of young people.

Now state prosecutors are investigating the effect social media has on children and Congress has called for hearings regarding this issue.

Also, public schools in Seattle have filed a 91-page lawsuit against the companies running Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube. They allege that students are being recommended content that harms mental health on these platforms.

Big Tech companies can’t be held accountable for what others share on their platforms as per Section 230 (This Part of the 1996 Communications Decency Act makes it almost impossible to sue social media companies over content shared on their platforms). However, the Supreme Court will be hearing arguments in February to hopefully limit Section 230 and put the recommendation algorithms at the forefront.

Woman posts anti-police messages after Brakenridge chief’s slaying

A Pittsburgh woman has posted threatening, anti-police messages after Brakenridge Police Chief Justin McIntire was killed on the 2nd of January 2023.

The woman, who was identified as Nicky Jo Dawson, wrote “A pig died tonight” and “They want us to cry over it. They will use this to exterminate us and call it ‘looking for a suspect’.”

Chief Trial Deputy District Attorney William Petulla filed a motion requesting Common Pleas Judge Kelly Bigley to hold a violation hearing regarding Ms. Dawson’s statements.

However, some legal experts have pointed out that Ms. Dawson’s messages aren’t severe enough to be considered a threat. The Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, Witold Walczak, also argued that Ms. Dawson’s statements, though sensitive, are still constitutionally protected.

Facebook has removed Ms. Dawson’s posts as it violates their content policy. However, this story does question where the line between speaking your mind and making threats lies.

Pittsburgh police to resume secondary traffic stops

A 2021 ordinance prevented Pittsburgh police from making traffic stops for minor traffic offenses. The ordinance was put in place after advocates argued that racial biases may lead to disappropriate enforcement against Latino and Black Pittsburgh residents.

According to the acting Police Chief, Thomas Stangrecki, he received feedback from police officers that the ordinance was preventing them from doing their jobs, which is enforcing the law. After this, Chief Stangrecki had the ordinance pulled down for review in light of new changes in state law.

However, legal experts have questioned if the Pittsburgh Police Department can go against the ordinance.

Police violence is a major issue in the United States, and violent enforcement at traffic stops is not unheard of. However, the effect of police disregarding the ordinance remains to be seen.

If you’re looking for support for legal matters in Pittsburgh, speak with our team of lawyers here at Very Law.

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