A teenager has filed a lawsuit against Snapchat for failing to prevent the sexual exploitation of females on its platform. The teen, known only as L.W. to safeguard her identity as a victim of sexual assault, and her mother accused Snapchat of failing to develop a platform that could protect its users from “egregious injury” in a complaint brought before a US court on Monday.

The lawsuit, filed in California, demands at least $5 million in damages and promises that the corporation will look more into the matter to assure protection. “We cannot expect the same corporations who profit from children being hurt to go and safeguard them,” said the girl’s attorney in a statement. “That’s why the law exists.”

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The occurrences began when the girl was 12 years old. A man she met on Snapchat allegedly began requesting naked photos from her, assuring her that he was a friend and thought she was attractive. According to an inquiry, the guy – an armed forces veteran convicted last year in a military court on accusations of child pornography and sexual assault – reportedly saved the girl’s Snapchat photographs and videos and shared them with others on the internet.

The now-16-year-old girl is launching a class-action lawsuit against Snapchat, which has an enormous impact on American adolescents, alleging that its designers did little to prevent the sexual exploitation of girls like her on the app. A class-action lawsuit is one in which one of the parties is a group of persons collectively represented by a member or members of that group.

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The complaint highlights privacy and safety issues, claiming that the algorithms on which tech companies rely to detect child pornography are dangerously defective. However, Snapchat’s core features of self-deleting messages and short video conversations have been justified as allowing young people to speak up about their lives. Snap, the app’s parent company, told The Washington Post that it employs “the newest technology” and creates tools “to assist us in locating and deleting content that exploits or abuses kids.” “While we cannot comment on ongoing litigation, this is unfortunate, and we are relieved that the culprit has been apprehended and sentenced,” Snap spokesperson Rachel Racusen said. “Our community’s safety is more essential to us than anything else.”

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