FILE PHOTO: 3D printed images of the logos of Facebook and parent company Meta Platforms are seen on a laptop keyboard in this illustration taken on November 2, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
March 29, 2022
(Reuters) – A US judge ruled on Tuesday that a lawsuit accusing Facebook of Meta Platforms Inc deceiving advertisers about its “potential reach” tool can proceed as a class action.
US District Judge James Donato’s ruling in San Francisco potentially allows millions of individuals and businesses who have paid for ads on Facebook and its photo-sharing app Instagram since August 15, 2014 to sue as a group.
Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The lawsuit began in 2018 when DZ Reserve and other advertisers accused Facebook of increasing its advertising reach by increasing the number of potential viewers by up to 400% and charging artificially high premiums for ad placements.
They also said senior Facebook executives had known for years that the company’s “potential reach” metric was being inflated by duplicate and fake accounts, but did nothing about it and took steps to cover it up.
After raising Meta’s “blunderbuss” objections to the class certification, Donato dismissed his claims that the class was too diverse, including “large, sophisticated corporations” as well as individuals and small corporations, and that it was too difficult to calculate damages .
Donato also said it makes sense to have individual plaintiffs sue as a group, since “no sane person” would sue Meta individually to recover, at most, a $32 prize premium.
The judge is expected to consider Meta’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit later this year.
(Reporting by Aishwarya Nair in Bengaluru and Jonathan Stamp in New York; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)
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