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Four Canadian school boards sue Snapchat, TikTok, and Meta for 'disrupting education'

Four Canadian school boards sue Snapchat, TikTok, and Meta for 'disrupting education'

Four Canadian school boards have announced a lawsuit against Meta, Snapchat and TikTok "for disruption to the education system".

The school boards, which are the largest in the Canadian province of Ontario, alleged that the companies "have negligently designed and marketed addictive products" that have disrupted the school boards' mandates.

"Educators are spending increased classroom time monitoring issues caused by social media and are forced to rework curriculum to meet the adapting needs of a student body with significant attention, focus, and mental health concerns; and the changing behavioural dynamics of the student population at large are causing massive shifts and resource demands," read a statement from the Toronto District School Board.

"The fall-out of compulsive use of social media amongst students is causing huge strains on the Board’s finite resources".

The lawsuit was against Meta Platforms Inc, which owns Facebook and Instagram, Snap Inc, which owns Snapchat, and ByteDance Ltd, which owns TikTok.

'Social media companies should be held accountable'

The school boards in Canada suing are the Toronto District School Board, the Peel District School Board, the Toronto Catholic District School Board and the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.

A spokeswoman for Snap Inc, Tonya Johnson, said Snapchat helps its users stay connected with their friends.

“Snapchat opens directly to a camera - rather than a feed of content - and has no traditional public likes or comments,” she said.

“While we will always have more work to do, we feel good about the role Snapchat plays in helping close friends feel connected, happy and prepared as they face the many challenges of adolescence".

Educators are spending increased classroom time monitoring issues caused by social media and are forced to rework curriculum to meet the adapting needs of a student body with significant attention, focus, and mental health concerns.

Representatives of Meta and ByteDance didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Duncan Embury, a lawyer for the firm representing the boards, said in a statement the most advanced tech developers in the world have knowingly and negligently designed their products to maximise the amount of time young people spend on their platforms at the expense of their well-being and education.

“Social media companies should be held accountable for their negligence and the harm they have caused to our schools, and our community at large,” he said.

The use of social media among teens is nearly universal in many parts of the world.

Dozens of US states, including California and New York, are also suing Meta Platforms Inc. for harming young people and contributing to a youth mental health crisis by knowingly and deliberately designing features on Instagram and Facebook that addict children to its platforms.