Meta must face Australian billionaire Forrest’s US lawsuit over scam Facebook crypto ads

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A US judge turned down Meta Platforms’ attempt to throw out a lawsuit by billionaire Australian mining tycoon Andrew Forrest concerning deceptive Facebook ads featuring him endorsing fake cryptocurrency and other scams.

In a ruling on Monday, US District Judge Casey Pitts in San Jose, California stated that Australia’s second-wealthiest individual can proceed to demonstrate that Meta’s negligence in permitting the ads violated its obligation to conduct business reasonably. Forrest can also try to establish that Meta wrongly used his name and image, not just the scammers behind the fraudulent ads.

“Pitts mentioned, ‘Dr. Forrest alleges that Meta gained more from ads featuring his image than it would have without them.’ ‘This is sufficient to claim that the supposed misappropriation benefited Meta.'” Meta’s attorneys chose not to respond on Tuesday.

The Palo Alto, California-headquartered company contended that Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act shielded it from responsibility as a publisher of third-party content. However, the judge stated that Forrest’s assertions “raise a factual dispute about whether Meta’s ad systems were impartial tools that anyone could utilize (or misuse) or if the tools themselves contributed to the ad content.”

Forrest stated that over 1,000 of these ads were displayed on Facebook in Australia from April to November 2023, resulting in millions of dollars in losses for victims.

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