Facebook’s advertising practices have been the subject of numerous controversies and lawsuits over the years. Many of these issues have been raised regarding Facebook’s political ads. It is common for Facebook to display money protocol regarding both local and national elections. However, Facebook has been criticized for its lack of transparency regarding these political ads. In Washington state, this issue led to a lawsuit filed by the State against Facebook in 2020.
Washington State requires advertisers to disclose information about political ads
Washington state has some of the country’s most restrictive laws regarding political advertisements. One of the most controversial regulations is that advertisers have to disclose information about political ads to people who ask. The advertisers must reveal a great deal of information, such as who purchased the ad space, and they are required to disclose it in a timely fashion. Facebook disputed this regulation and claimed that it would stop serving political ads in the state of Washington. However, the Washington Attorney General claims that this did not happen.
Washington Attorney General filed suit against Facebook in 2020
The Washington Attorney General filed suit against Facebook in 2020 for failing to follow these state’s laws regarding political ads. The lawsuit alleges that Facebook continued to serve political ads in this state after agreeing with the Attorney General’s office that they would no longer display political ads in Washington. The lawsuit has been ongoing for years now, and little progress had been made until recently.
Facebook sought to have the law declared unconstitutional
Facebook tried to have Washington State’s law regarding political ads declared unconstitutional. They claimed the law violated the First Amendment right to freedom of speech. However, the judge presiding over the case recently dismissed Facebook’s claim that Washington State’s law was unconstitutional. While the outcome of your lawsuit has got to be decided, this is undoubtedly a significant setback for Facebook. The basis of their legal argument has been rejected. It is very likely that Facebook will now look to settle the lawsuit. Their prospects for victory are slim, and the case has undoubtedly already caused Facebook a massive amount in legal fees.
Facebook has asked a federal judge to dismiss the antitrust case of the American government that seeks Facebook to sell WhatsApp and Instagram. An antitrust case is a case that is used to prevent monopoly within the free market. According to the social media giant, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was not able to provide a plausible factual basis for branding Facebook as an unlawful monopolist. Facebook also added the FTC relied on guesswork rather than real facts.
As a result, a U.S. judge James Boasberg dismissed the FTC’s complaint against Facebook stating that it was legally insufficient. It is important to note that he dismissed the complaint, not the case, which gave the FTC a chance to file a revised complaint, and the FTC did that.
The FTC amended their original complaint by adding more details and asked the judge again to force Facebook to sell WhatsApp and Instagram. The FTC claimed that Facebook has been the most dominant and largest personal social network in the US since 2012. Facebook responded to this claim by saying that they are facing enough competition from such social websites as LinkedIn, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube. However, the FTC argued that these websites do not fall under the category of “personal social networking”.
Facebook also added that the amended complaint is not valid because of the participation of the new FTC chair, Lina Khan. Facebook said that she should have to recuse herself from this case due to her criticism of big and influential tech companies, including Facebook. According to Facebook, she joined the FTC having already made up her mind against the social media giant.
Facebook also noted that one of the purposes of this lawsuit filed by the FTC is to undo mergers that it had approved. These mergers include Instagram bought by Facebook for $1 billion in 2012 and WhatsApp bought by Facebook for $19 billion in 2014.
By responding to the FTC complaint, Facebook claims that this case does not have any factual or legal support. One of the Facebook spokesmen also added that Facebook cannot be accused of having monopoly power because this power does not exist at all.
Facebook has come out and defended itself following claims that it doesn’t employ the right measures to protect its users against human traffickers and sex abuse. While responding to a lawsuit filed against it, Facebook said that it works both internally and externally to thwart the efforts of such predators. Today, Facebook is the largest online social network with over one billion registered users.
A spokeswoman for Facebook reiterated that human trafficking is abhorrent and it isn’t allowed on the social network. She further stated that they use sophisticated technology to prevent such kind of abuse and also encourages its users to use the reporting links found across the site to alert their team of experts so that they can review any malicious content swiftly.
Recently, a Texas woman who was identified as Jane Doe filed a court case against the Mark Zuckerberg owned social network in Harris County District Court claiming that she was enticed into child prostitution at a tender age of 15 by an adult man who she met on Facebook. However, she acknowledged that she didn’t do enough to verify his identity and establish his motives before engaging him. She said that she didn’t expect sex traffickers to be lurking on Facebook and that the company would have done something to stop it from happening.
The Facebook Spokeswoman further claimed that the company works closely with anti-trafficking organizations and well-established technology companies who help them to report all instances of child sexual exploitation to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
In her lawsuit, Jane Doe argues that she was fooled by the child sex traffickers who sent her a message through Facebook in 2012 because the trafficker appeared to know some of her real-life friends. She went ahead to agree on meeting the man who even offered to console her after an altercation with her mother but instead of comforting her, the man raped her and went ahead to post her picture on Backpage.com so that she could be prostituted.
The federal authorities shut the notorious Backpage.com website earlier this year after a thorough investigation by the Justice Department into the allegation that the site was mainly used for prostitution. Backpage.com and several of its employees have been named in Doe’s case as the key defendants.
The lawsuit was filed several months after the United States Congress passed two bipartisan anti-trafficking bills namely; the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act and the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act. These two bills were signed into law by President Donald Trump in April this year.