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Ottawa public school board, 3 Toronto-area school boards launch lawsuit against social media giants

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and three school boards in the Toronto-area have launched legal action against social media giants, accusing them of “disrupting students’ fundamental right to education.”

The four school boards announced Thursday morning they have commenced legal action against the owners of Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat and TikTok, claiming “the fall out of compulsive use of social media amongst students” is costing the boards “in excess of $4 billion.” The lawsuit calls on social media giants to remediate the “enormous costs” to the education system and redesign the apps to “keep students safe.”

“The lawsuit claims that social media products, negligently designed for compulsive use, have rewired the way children think, behave, and learn, leaving educators and schools to manage the fallout,” the boards said in a statement.

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, Toronto District School Board, Peel District School Board and Toronto Catholic School Board have retained Neinstein LLP, a Toronto-based litigation firm, to represent them. The legal action has been launched against Meta Platforms Inc., Snap Inc. and ByteDance Ltd.

“Students are experiencing an attention, learning and mental health crisis because of prolific and compulsive use of social media products,” the boards said.

“The fall out of compulsive use of social media amongst students is causing massive strains on the four school boards’ finite resources, including additional needs for in-school mental health programming and personnel, increased IT costs, and additional administrative resources.

“Collectively, the boards are advancing claims in excess of $4 billion. This action calls on social media giants to remediate these enormous costs to the education system, to redesign their products to keep students safe.”

The boards have launched a new website, called Schools for Social Media Change Alliance.

The school boards in Ottawa and the Toronto-area say the goal of the litigation is to provide school boards with the “resources needed to support student programming and services, and to respond to the school-based problems social media giants have caused.”

The statement says school boards will not be responsible for any costs associated to the lawsuit unless a successful outcome is reached. 

This is a developing story. CTV News Ottawa will update the story as more details become available

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