COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Attorney General David Yost announced on Monday he was filing a lawsuit against Meta, the parent company of Facebook, for securities fraud and allegations of harm to children.
The suit was filed on behalf of the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System and Meta stock investors. The suit contends from April 29, 2021 through Oct. 21, 2021, Meta senior executives violated federal securities laws by misleading the public about the negative effects the Facebook platform had on the health of children as well as steps the company has taken to protect the public.
"Facebook said it was looking out for our children and weeding out online trolls," Yost said in a press release. "But in reality was creating misery and divisiveness for profit. We are not people to Mark Zuckerburg. We are the product and we are being used against each other out of greed."
The statement cited a Wall Street Journal story that was published in September which revealed internal documents about the company, as well as statements in October from a former employee turned whistleblower.
The suit claims the revelations from the story and the whistleblower led to the company's stock value dropping, costing the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System and other investors over $100 billion.
Yost and attorneys general from 43 other states sent letters to CEO Mark Zuckerburg in May, asking him to pull a planned Instagram app for kids.
"Although Facebook pulled the plug on the app, the whistleblower's recent testimony before Congress made clear that Meta never abandoned its goal to expand its user base by grooming kids to use Facebook products in the future," the statement said.
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court of Northern California, the location of Meta's headquarters. Counsel for the state of Ohio includes the Ohio Attorney General's office and attorneys from Bernstein, Litowitz, Berger and Grossman LLP. Yost said he plans to ask the court to appoint the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System as the lead plaintiff in the suit.