Ontario School Boards Sue Meta, Snapchat, and TikTok for $4.5 Billion

Students in a classroom and a teacher writes on a chalkboard.

Four school boards in Ontario, Canada have launched a $4.5 billion lawsuit against social media giants Meta, Snapchat, and TikTok for what they describe as negligently designed apps.

The lawsuit seeks damages against the social media apps for disruption to the education system and learning.

“Students are experiencing an attention, learning, and mental health crisis because of prolific and compulsive use of social media products. The fallout 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 four billion dollars,” a press release from Schools for Social Media Change explains.

Schools for Social Media Change is an organization of “school boards, schools, thought leaders, and organizations working together to demand accountability from social media tech giants to strengthen the education system.”

Snapchat, TikTok, and Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, have faced numerous criticisms for their effects on users, especially those under 18. The lawsuit claims these apps have created “an attention, learning, and mental health crisis” for students due to “prolific and compulsive use of social media products.” It further states this has led to “massive strains” on resources for the Toronto, Peel, and Ottawa public school boards as well as the board for Toronto Catholic.

“The influence of social media on today’s youth at school cannot be denied. It leads to pervasive problems such as distraction, social withdrawal, cyberbullying, a rapid escalation of aggression, and mental health challenges,” says Colleen Russell-Rawlins, Director of Education for the Toronto District School Board. “Therefore, it is imperative that we take steps to ensure the well-being of our youth. We are calling for measures to be implemented to mitigate these harms and prioritize the mental health and academic success of our future generation.”

The school boards have retained legal representation from the Toronto-based law firm Neinstein LLP. The release noted the school boards will not be responsible for any costs related to the case “unless a successful outcome is reached.”

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.