Meta Hit With Major Loss In Lawsuit

( – Meta, the owners of Facebook and Instagram, have failed to get a lawsuit against the company dismissed. The suit was filed by Andrew Forrest, a mining businessman from Australia. The lawsuit alleges that Facebook is allowing scam ads that use Forrest’s likeness to promote fake crypto coins and investment schemes.

The 62-year-old Forrest is the CEO of Fortescue Metals Group and has a net worth of nearly $25 billion. According to him, between spring and autumn of 2023, thousands of fake advertisements surfaced on Facebook in Australia, scamming millions of dollars from people.

US District Judge Casey Pitts recently ruled that Meta’s negligence in allowing these ads broke its own rules to operate in a manner that’s reasonable for businesses. Forrest can also pursue claims that Meta themselves misused his name and likeness, not just the scammers. Judge Pitts explained that Meta was able to make more money off the ads because they used Forrest’s likeness, which allows him to file the suit personally against the company. Forrest seeks both compensation and penalties against Meta.

Prosecutors in Australia decided not to press charges that Forrest had filed against Meta for the same fraudulent advertisements in April. Forrest had sued under Australian laws that let people criminally prosecute foreign companies with the consent of local prosecutors.

Lawyers representing Meta have not yet commented on the ruling.

Meta had argued that Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act meant there’s no liability toward the company as they only publish third party content. However, the judge noted that Forrest’s claims raised a legitimate argument over whether the AD systems of Meta were tools that could be used by anybody, or if the tools helped propagate the scams with the likeness of Forrest.

In a statement, Forrest described Pitts’ decision as a pivotal victory in holding Meta accountable. This case is the first time a social media company could not claim Section 230 immunity in a US civil case regarding the way it uses advertising.

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