On behalf of the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS), Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has filed a lawsuit alleging that Facebook (now Meta) misled the public “in an effort to boost its stock and deceive shareholders,” according to a statement.
The lawsuit references the health implications of Facebook’s products for children, concerns that were heightened by documents revealed by whistleblower Frances Haugen. The suit names the company and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, CFO David Wehner, and Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications Nick Clegg directly as defendants.
The lawsuit says the company “repeatedly misrepresented to investors
and the public that use of Facebook’s products does not harm children, that the Company takes aggressive and effective measures to stop the spread of harmful content, and that Facebook applies its standards of behavior equally to all users. Facebook investors recently learned the truth when former Facebook employee turned whistleblower, Frances Haugen, came forward with internal documents showing that Defendants were aware that Facebook’s platforms facilitate dissention, illegal activity, and violent extremism, and cause significant harm to users, especially children, but Facebook refused to correct these issues. All told, these disclosures erased more than $100 billion in shareholder value and subjected Facebook to immense reputational harm.”
The suit details how successive reports in the Wall Street Journal– known as the Facebook Files– wiped $150 billion off of Facebook’s market capitalization in the period.
According to CNBC, a Facebook spokesperson said the suit is “without merit” in a statement and said, “we will defend ourselves vigorously.”
Justin Hendrix is CEO and Editor of Tech Policy Press, a new nonprofit media venture concerned with the intersection of technology and democracy. Previously, he was Executive Director of NYC Media Lab. He spent over a decade at The Economist in roles including Vice President, Business Development & Innovation. He is an associate research scientist and adjunct professor at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Opinions expressed here are his own.