Ohio is suing Facebook’s parent company, Meta, claiming the social media platform misled the public about the effects its products have on children. The lawsuit, filed November 12th on behalf of the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS), is seeking more than $100 billion in damages.
The suit alleges that between April 29th and October 21st, Facebook and top executives violated federal securities law when they intentionally misled the public and deceived shareholders about how its products can negatively affect children.
“Facebook said it was looking out for our children and weeding out online trolls, but in reality was creating misery and divisiveness for profit,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said in a statement Monday. He added that when the Wall Street Journal began publishing a series of articles based on internal documents from whistleblower Frances Haugen, “the truth began to emerge.” According to the documents, Facebook’s own internal research showed its Instagram photo-sharing platform might be harmful to the mental health of teenagers, especially girls.
After the reports were published, Facebook’s stock dropped, causing the retirement system and other investors in the company to lose more than $100 billion, Yost said.
According to the lawsuit, OPERS manages assets worth approximately $125 billion on behalf of 1.1 million active members, retirees, and beneficiaries. The system “purchased shares of Facebook Class A common stock at artificially inflated prices” in 2021 and “suffered damages as a result of the violations of the federal securities laws alleged.”
Meta spokesperson Joe Osborne said in a statement emailed to The Verge that the suit is “without merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously.”
In addition to recovering the lost $100 billion, Yost said, the lawsuit “demands that Facebook make significant reforms to ensure it does not mislead the public about its internal practices.”