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TikTok, Instagram ‘goaded’ NYC teen into fatal subway surfing, shattered mom says in lawsuit

The mother of a Manhattan teen who died last year subway surfing said in a lawsuit Tuesday that TikTok and Instagram encouraged her son to do dangerous stunts by encouraging him to watch videos of other children climbing on top of trains. He claimed that he had set him up.

Norma Nazario has filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court on the one-year anniversary of the death of her 15-year-old son, Zachary, who hit his head while “surfing” on a passing J train and fell between subway cars. Ta. Williamsburg Bridge.

The mother’s lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from both the social media company and the MTA. The MTA has been accused of allowing children to sit in trains without installing barriers to prevent them from climbing on them.

Zachary Nazario, 15, died while surfing the subway on February 20, 2023. Handouts to families

The lawsuit also asks the court to force technology companies to make “dangerous” changes to their recommendation technology that could provoke other thrill-seekers to join this dangerous trend.

“They could give me a billion dollars and I’m not going to stop,” Norma Nazario told the Post about her campaign for change. “I will not stop until the MTA and social media companies start taking responsibility and stop killing our children.”

According to the complaint, Zachary, then a 10th grade student at Clinton School in Union Square, boarded a train to Brooklyn on Feb. 20, 2023, shortly after receiving a video about the viral “Subway Surfing Challenge.” The man was struck in the head by a low beam and fell between two subway cars, where he died minutes later, according to the complaint.

Technology companies have long advocated comprehensive legal protection for user-posted content under a 1996 law known as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

But Nazario’s lawsuit aims to hold TikTok and Instagram liable under a state law that prohibits “unreasonably dangerous” designs in products — in this case, because of what her mother says is an addictive product. Some content “targeted, incited and encouraged” teenagers to surf the subway.

“What happened to Zachary was not an accident or a coincidence,” said Matthew Bergman, co-founder of the Social Media Victims Law Center and an attorney representing the Nazario family.

Norma Nazario’s lawsuit aims to force TikTok and Instagram to stop promoting the viral subway surfing challenge to teens without warning them about the risks. James Messerschmidt, New York Post

Bergman told the Post that the tragedy was “the foreseeable result of social media companies’ deliberate decisions to design products that young people will become addicted to.”

Zachary Nazario was one of at least five people to die while subway surfing in 2023.

This worrying trend will continue until 2024, with 14-year-old boys also affected. killed just last month — even as a city-run public service advertising campaign tried to turn the tide on the viral stunt.

The MTA did not comment Tuesday on the merits of Nazario’s lawsuit, which the agency accuses of “creating a serious and foreseeable risk of harm,” but said subway surfing is deadly and parents should I warned them that they should talk to their children about it.

“We say again and again: Do not climb on top of trains, because it will not bring good results. We ask parents to warn their children and their friends. and avoid tragedy,” said the president of the New York City Transit Authority. Richard Davey said in his statement:

Representatives for TikTok and Instagram did not immediately respond to The Post’s requests for comment, and as of Tuesday afternoon, the tech giants had not yet hired attorneys in the case.

The subway runs over the Williamsburg Bridge. Anadolu Agency (via Getty Images)

Meta, the parent company of TikTok and Instagram, is one of the richest companies in the world, with annual revenues in the tens of billions of dollars.

Nazario said just because tech giants have deep pockets doesn’t deter them from fighting for change.

“It doesn’t matter how powerful they are. They don’t stop no matter what. It doesn’t scare me at all,” she told the Post, adding that companies have known about these dangers “for a long time.” He added that the issue had not been resolved, even though the issue had not been resolved.

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