Four Ontario school boards sue Meta, TikTok, and Snapchat, seek over $4.5 billion

The school boards allege the platforms have harmed the learning and mental health of students, leaving educators to deal with the fallout

Four of Ontario’s largest school boards are taking some of the leading social media giants to court for “disrupting” students’ learning through “exploitative business practices.”

The public school boards of Toronto, Peel, Ottawa-Carleton and the Toronto Catholic board have filed lawsuits in excess of $4.5 billion against Meta’s Facebook and Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

According to reporting from various media outlets, the school boards filed separate but similar lawsuits with Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice on Wednesday. The lawsuits allege the tech giants designed social media platforms “for compulsive use [that] have rewired the way children think, behave, and learn.”

“The defendants have acted in a high-handed, reckless, malicious, and reprehensible manner without due regard for the well-being of the student population and the education system,” the statements of claim read.

The actions have left the school boards to deal with “the fallout.”

A press release from Schools for Social Media Change, which is a coalition of the four school boards, says students’ “compulsive use” of social platforms has led to higher IT costs and additional needs for mental health programs and administrative resources.

“In the absence of effective measures from the architects of these digital platforms, our educators find themselves increasingly involved in mitigating social media-induced matters, diverting precious time away from academic instruction,” Brendan Browne, director of education at the Toronto Catholic District School Board, said in a statement.

The school boards are calling on social media giants to remediate these costs and change their platforms to “keep students safe.”

“The influence of social media on today’s youth at school cannot be denied,” Colleen Russell-Rawlins, the Toronto District School Board’s director of education, said in the release. “It leads to pervasive problems such as distraction, social withdrawal, cyberbullying, a rapid escalation of aggression, and mental health challenges. Therefore, it is imperative that we take steps to ensure the well-being of our youth.”

Image credit: Shutterstock

Source: Schools for Social Media Change Via: The Globe, The Star, CBC

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