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Four Canada School Boards Seek C$4 Billion in Damages from Social-Media Platforms — Update

By Paul Vieira


OTTAWA--Four of Canada's biggest school boards have filed lawsuits against the owners of Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat, claiming the products have rewired the way the students think and have left educators to manage the fallout.

Three Toronto-area school boards and another in Ottawa, the capital, said Thursday the lawsuits, and the damages sought, mark an effort to give educators with the financial resources required to respond "to the school-based problems social media giants have caused."

Collectively, the school boards are seeking damages from Meta Platforms, ByteDance and Snap of over 4 billion Canadian dollars, or the equivalent of $2.95 billion. Statements of claim were filed in the province of Ontario's Superior Court of Justice.

"These damages include, but are not limited to, a significant diversion and drain on the ... resources and personnel that is caused by the conduct of the defendants," said a statement of claim filed by the Toronto Catholic District School Board. The social-media companies "knew, or ought to have known, that their conduct is having a serious impact on schools and would cause widespread disruption to the education system."

A spokeswoman for Snap, via email, didn't directly address the allegations made in the lawsuit. "Snapchat was intentionally designed to be different from traditional social media, with a focus on helping [users] communicate with their close friends," the spokeswoman said. "While we will always have more work to do, we feel good about the role Snapchat plays in helping close friends feel connected."

Representatives from Meta, owner of Facebook and Instagram, and ByteDance, TikTok's owner, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In the U.S., about 200 school districts, from Pennsylvania to California, have joined litigation against social media companies. The U.S. lawsuits contend teachers and administrators waste valuable time responding to cyberbullying and other disciplinary problems, adding new training and school policies around social-media use, and counseling youths whose addiction to online apps is leading to anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts.


Write to Paul Vieira at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 28, 2024 11:18 ET (15:18 GMT)

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