US judge rejects Meta Platform’s attempt to dismiss billionaire’s lawsuit

A US judge has rejected Meta Platform’s attempt to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Australian billionaire mining magnate Andrew Forrest over Facebook ads using fake images to promote fraudulent cryptocurrency schemes.

California District Judge Casey Bates said in a Monday, June 17, order that Forest can refile its suit and attempt to prove that Meta’s negligence in failing to stop the fraudulent ads violated its duty to act in a “commercially reasonable manner”.

Meta argued that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act exempts it from liability as a publisher of third-party content – ​​an argument YouTube has used unsuccessfully to try to avoid being blamed for fraudulent cryptocurrency advertisements on its platform.

The law, almost 30 years old, stipulates that the provider of an “interactive computer service” will not be treated as the publisher (…) of any information provided by another information content provider.

But Judge Bates found that Meta had not “compellingly proven” that Section 230 gave him a “robust affirmative defense” to all of Forrest’s allegations.

“This is the first time in a US civil court that a social media company has failed to successfully use Section 230 immunity as a defense against civil liability for the conduct of its advertising activities” , Forrest said. Australian.

He added: “The ruling means we can seek to prove in court that Facebook can and should prevent fraudulent adverts from appearing on its site while refusing to take any responsibility. »

Forrest can try to install meta ads

The order says Forrest’s amended lawsuit could attempt to prove that Meta misappropriated his name and likeness as well as the fraudsters who created the false ads.

“Forrest asserts that Meta benefited more from the advertisements including his image than he would have if the advertisements did not,” Judge Bates wrote. “This is sufficient to assert that the alleged misappropriation was for the benefit of Meta.”

Alleged fake Asc video of Forrest promoting fraudulent crypto scheme on Facebook. Source: CortListener

It also found that Forrest “plausibly alleged that Meta played an active role in creating the advertisements in question.”

Forrest alleged that Meta had “active involvement” in how the ads appeared and to whom they were presented through its advertising tools.

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“These claims represent a factual dispute over whether meta-advertising systems are neutral tools that anyone can use (or abuse) or whether the tools themselves contributed to the content of the advertisements,” he said. said Judge Bates.

In April, Australian prosecutors stopped pursuing Forrest’s criminal charges against Meta in the country for fraudulent false advertising linked to cryptocurrencies, saying there was not enough evidence.

Forbes estimates the net worth of the 62-year-old founder of iron ore producer Fortescue Metals Group at $16.6 billion.

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