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

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LA Post: 4 Canadian school boards sue Snapchat, TikTok and Meta for disrupting students' education
AP
ROB GILLIES
March 28, 2024

TORONTO (AP) — Four of the largest school boards in the Canadian province of Ontario said Thursday they launched lawsuits against TikTok, Meta and SnapChat alleging the social media platforms are disrupting student learning.

The lawsuits claim platforms like Facebook and Instagram are “designed for compulsive use, have rewired the way children think, behave, and learn.”

Meta Platforms Inc. owns Facebook and Instagram, while Snap Inc. owns SnapChat and ByteDance Ltd. owns TikTok. Representatives of the social media companies didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Dozens of U.S. 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.

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.

They are seeking damages for disruption to student learning and the education system.

Duncan Embury, a lawyer for the firm representing the boards, said in the statement the most advanced tech developers in the world have knowingly and negligently designed their products to maximize the amount of time young people spend on their platforms at the expense of their wellbeing 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 the U.S. and many other parts of the world. Almost all teens ages 13 to 17 in the U.S. report using a social media platform, with about a third saying they use social media “almost constantly,” according to the Pew Research Center.

In May, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy called on tech companies, parents and caregivers to take “immediate action to protect kids now” from the harms of social media.

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