Facebook’s entire existence has been plagued by lawsuits, dating back to the very first one filed by the Winklevoss Twins less than a week after the site launched in 2004.
Since then, there’s been no shortage of cases brought against the tech behemoth. The social media company formerly known as Facebook is in the headlines because it recently agreed to pay out $725 million to settle a privacy class-action lawsuit that claimed Facebook’s parent company, Meta, was selling user data without their permission.
But while this $725 million suit resulting from the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal is a big deal for Meta, it’s not nearly the only lawsuit pending against the company. Meta’s been sued hundreds of times since its founding in 2004, and at least 30 times since the beginning of 2020 alone.
According to Law360, Meta Platforms is a defendant or co-defendant in at least 2,100 suits. The majority of these are civil cases. Not unexpectedly, most of the lawsuits against Facebook are pending in its home state of California—over 800 cases. Most of the legal challenges against Facebook or Meta are also class action suits.
There’s a wide range of lawsuits pending against Facebook and Meta, including accusations that the network is selling data without users’ permission, is operating a monopoly on the social media industry, and is driving online extremism through its algorithms.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the pending lawsuits against the company that have had recent developments, and what each party suing is demanding.
33 states vs. Meta
In a case whose title is too long to list out, 33 states and the District of Columbia in October joined together to sue Meta for luring underage children to its platforms, and refusing to disclose their addictive natures.
According to recently unsealed documents, Meta received more than a million reports of underage users using its platform, but really acted on them. According to one claim in the lawsuit, Meta has a backlog of 2.5 million “underage” accounts that are awaiting action on the platform.
“Within the company, Meta’s actual knowledge that millions of Instagram users are under the age of 13 is an open secret that is routinely documented, rigorously analyzed and confirmed and zealously protected from disclosure to the public, the complaint read. It was filed in the Northern District of California and is currently pending.
Meta, in a statement, said it was “disappointed that instead of working productively with companies across the industry to create clear, age-appropriate standards for the many apps teens use, the attorneys general have chosen this path.”
Federal Trade Commission v. Meta Platforms
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) originally sued Facebook in December 2020, claiming the company’s dominance over social media was the result of anticompetitive conduct. The suit was tossed for lack of evidence, but the FTC was allowed to refile and now a new case is moving forward.
The case is still pending; as of January 2022 a judge ruled the case can proceed.
As of May, the FTC was ordered by a judge to show proof of its allegations that consumers would have been better off if Meta hadn’t ever bought Instagram or WhatsApp.
State of Texas v. Meta Platforms Inc.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a complaint against Meta in February 2022. It alleged the company collected users’ facial recognition data without telling them, and also stored them for about 10 years—before Meta announced it would delete the biometrics of up to 1 billion users in November 2021.
A similar class action case was settled in Illinois courts for $650 million in 2021.
Most recently, a Texas appeals court ruled this June that an attorney for plaintiffs’ law firm Keller Postman, who worked as an intern for Meta in 2012 years ago, could represent the state against the company.
Ohio Public Employees Retirement System v. Meta Platforms, Inc.
Ohio Attorney General David Yost sued Meta in November 2021 for securities fraud. Yost alleged Meta misled the public about how the Facebook platform’s algorithm was controlled and secured, and also claimed the social media firm shirked its duty to keep toxic content off news feeds.
The state is seeking court-ordered policy reforms at Facebook and unspecified damages. A press release filed that year claimed investors had lost up to $100 billion after whistleblower Frances Haugen published a load of internal documents claiming the company was aware its products fostered “illegal activity or violent extremism.”
The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System was named plaintiff in the case in July 2022 because the state workers’ pension plans have investment funds tied up in Facebook and Meta. The state is demanding court-ordered reforms to Meta’s policies and damages for investment money lost following the Haugen revelations.
Meta filed a motion to dismiss the suit on Jan. 30 that is still pending.
Lawson v. Meta Platforms Inc.
Brennan Lawson, a former Air Force veteran and member of Facebook’s escalations team handling content management sued the company in July 2022. Lawson claimed he was fired for bringing up concerns about user data, in particular tools Facebook used to see people’s direct chats on Facebook Messenger even after the user had deleted them. Lawson also claimed Facebook used the same protocol to share user data with law enforcement.
Lawson is suing for wrongful termination and civil penalties against Facebook for firing him, as well as unspecified damages. Most recently, Facebook argued in late May that Lawson was bound under an arbitration agreement he signed when joining the company, negating the need for a trial. The judge ruled Facebook couldn’t compel arbitration.
The court also said in May that the case was stayed, pending input from the California Supreme Court as to whether the case can proceed and if Lawson’s claims have standing in court under the PAGA Act.
Immersion Corporation v. Meta Platforms, Inc.
Immersion, a French augmented reality firm, sued Meta in a Texas court in May 2022, claiming the Meta Quest 2 headset infringes on its existing patents for haptic feedback technology. The lawsuit, which is still pending, alleges Meta infringed on six patents.
Despite its mixed-reality division Reality Labs losing over $21 billion since the beginning of 2022, Meta is still eager to make its Quest line of headsets catch on. One of the ways it is trying to differentiate its VR offerings from other competitors is by making them more immersive, with haptics, eye tracking and better rendering.
Reports on each company’s trademarks were sent to the U.S. Patent Office this May. In June, the case was opened in the Austin division of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.
Jukes v. Facebook, Inc.
Journalist and writer Peter Jukes sued Facebook in the U.K. in February 2021. The lawsuit accused Facebook of improperly storing and protecting users’ data, and allowing a third-party app to access personal information of people who downloaded the app, as well as their Facebook friends. Jukes’ lawsuit arose after the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed in 2017 that Facebook had sold their data. Jukes is suing on behalf of all Facebook users in the U.K. whose data was sold without their permission. He’s asking the court for unspecified damages and compulsory reforms of its data sharing policies.
Underwood v. Meta Platforms, Inc.
Angela Underwood, the sister of slain federal officer Dave Patrick Underwood, who was murdered during a protest in May 2020, sued Meta last January for “knowingly promoting extremist content” that led to her brother’s death. The suit also alleges Facebook acted as a digital meeting room for domestic terrorists to plan attacks against law enforcement.
Underwood claimed her brother was killed by the far-right extremist group the “Boogaloo Boys,” who incubated their views through echo chambers on Facebook. The group was especially active in-person following George Floyd’s murder by police in May 2020, with members showing up at anti-police protests following Floyd’s death, including the protest where Dave Underwood was killed.
His sister is suing for wrongful death and unspecified survival action damages, and filed an updated complaint in the State Superior Court for Alameda County June 16.