'Here & Now' Highlights: Charles Franklin, Tim Purdon, Cindy Boyle

Here's what guests on the April 19, 2024 episode said about election year polling, a Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin lawsuit against social media companies, and new help in the battle against PFAS.

By Frederica Freyberg | Here & Now

April 22, 2024

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Frederica Freyberg sits at a desk on the Here & Now set and faces a video monitor showing an image of Cindy Boyle.

Frederica Freyberg and Cindy Boyle (Credit: PBS Wisconsin)

Marquette University Law School polling finds Donald Trump up on Joe Biden slightly, with poll director Charles Franklin saying it also shows a significant drop in enthusiasm to vote in November. The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin has filed a lawsuit against social media giants, and attorney Tim Purdon discusses its argument that the platforms target tribal youth – resulting in dire mental health issues, including suicide. Town of Peshtigo resident Cindy Boyle has been battling PFAS contamination in her community for eight years, but shared a sense of hope in the wake of new regulations from the federal government.

Charles Franklin
Director, Marquette University Law School Poll

  • Polling of Wisconsin voters released April 17 shows President Joe Biden at 49% and former President Donald Trump at 51% in the 2024 presidential race. The margin of error in this poll is 4.8%. The previous poll, released April 3, showed these candidates even at 50% each. One significant measure of the survey showed voter enthusiasm for the race at 47% compared to 67% four years earlier.
  • Franklin: “Compared to March of 2020 versus now — early April — it’s down 20 points for people who say they’re very enthusiastic about voting. That’s quite a drop. And it was down in our January poll, also about 20 points below where it had been four years ago. Now, enthusiasm can change over the course of the year. This is not necessarily baked in, but I think certainly at the start of the race, it shows that we’re not really eager and looking forward to the fall campaign.”


Tim Purdon
Attorney, Robins Kaplan LLP

  • A lawsuit filed by the Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin against social media giants Meta, Snap, Alphabet and ByteDance accuses the companies for rewiring the brains of teens and young adults, causing mental health distress and suicide ideation. The lawsuit alleges the algorithms coded into their platforms — Facebook and Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and TikTok — encourages obsessive scrolling and resulting negative self-image, especially among girls. Attorney Purdon said while many such lawsuits against the social media companies have been filed in the past, this is the first for a sovereign tribal nation.
  • Purdon: “Generally across Indian Country, the reservation communities like Menominee, for a long time — in decades — the tribal youth, the teenage populations in those communities, really [are] some of the most at risk populations in this country. You look at any of the statistics for mental health, suicide rates, those sorts of things. A Native American female teenager has a five times rate of suicide risk to to a white female teenager. Those sorts of statistics are all too common in Indian Country. Over the last 10 years, we’ve seen injected into that that vulnerable population the sophisticated business practices and algorithms of these social media companies, which the growing research and data directly links to decreased mental health amongst teenagers, increased suicides, all those sorts of things.”


Cindy Boyle
Former chairperson, Town of Peshtigo

  • Boyle’s rural Peshtigo property and drinking water well are contaminated with PFAS chemicals. The town in northeast Wisconsin is a hot spot for the cancer-causing “forever chemicals,” which entered groundwater from the Tyco Fire Products training facility in nearby Marinette which tested firefighting foam containing PFAS. She has been fighting against the contamination and those responsible for eight years, and has seen a lot of new funding and attention aimed at the problem. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency just finalized a rule, which for the first time in 40 years deems PFAS as hazardous substances and makes the town of Peshtigo a Superfund site.
  • Boyle: “Basically, it means you live in kind-of a very polluted area, but it also means that the EPA has the authority to come in and and hold responsible parties accountable to make sure that they do adequate comprehensive remediation for things like surface water, soils, as well as help innocent landowners such as myself make sure that we have permanent, safe water solutions. … We are very vindicated and encouraged and optimistic that there is still a strong path forward. So we’re very, very grateful that this rule has gone into place.”


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