Muslim Advocacy Group Sues Facebook for Misleading Legislators, Consumers

According to a press release, Muslim Advocates filed suit against Facebook Inc., its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, and two other high-ranking employees on Thursday alleging that they violated the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act by falsely testifying that the social network takes down content that violates its policies. The plaintiff, a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to halting bigotry, argues that, contrary to Facebook’s commitment, the platform does not do enough to remove hateful anti-Muslim posts leading to serious online and real-life consequences.

The Superior Court for the District of Columbia complaint explained that company executives have testified on Capitol Hill that Facebook removes hate speech and other content that calls for violence from its platform. Yet, the plaintiff claimed, Facebook was used “to orchestrate the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar, mass murders of Muslims in India, and riots and murders in Sri Lanka that targeted Muslims for death.” The 60-page filing pointed to a civil rights audit and studies that concluded that Muslims using Facebook experience harassment and vulnerability. 

The complaint reasoned that, had Facebook’s executives enforced their own Community Standards and policies as avowed, “a significant amount of the anti-Muslim hate and real world damage could have been avoided.” The complaint stated four causes of action, including negligent misrepresentation.

For relief, Muslim Advocates requests that the court enjoin Facebook’s unlawful conduct, order corrective advertising, award statutory damages totalling less than $75,000, and award negligent misrepresentation damages and its attorney’s fees and costs.

Muslim Advocates is represented by Gupta Wessler PLLC, its own counsel, and University of Chicago Law Professor Aziz Huq.