WASHINGTON, DC – In response to Facebook asserting that the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA) does not apply to its relationship with users in Muslim Advocates v. Facebook, Tycko & Zavareei worked with the Tech Accountability & Competition Project at Yale Law School on behalf of three consumer advocacy groups to submit an amicus brief in support of broad consumer protections for users of “free” social media websites. The lawsuit alleges that Facebook and its executives misled legislators and the public by falsely claiming that Facebook removes hate speech and other violence-inciting content from its social media platforms.
The Amici Curiae include:
- Consumer Reports (CR), whose advocacy division strives to secure strong pro-consumer policies and practices in government and across industries.
- Public Knowledge, an advocacy group dedicated to ensuring universal access to affordable and open networks.
- Upturn, an advocacy group focusing on advancing equity and justice in the design, governance, and use of technology.
Despite users interacting with Facebook “free of charge,” in the amicus brief filed on December 6, 2021, these advocacy groups explain that Facebook “does indeed maintain a consumer-merchant relationship with users despite the zero-cash price.” In exchange for the benefit of receiving users’ attention, time, and personal data, Facebook provides access to its platform or “product,” which the consumer groups explain constitutes a merchant-consumer relationship governed by the CPPA.
Tycko & Zavareei LLP Partner Kristen G. Simplicio said about the filing, “In drafting the CPPA, the DC legislature made clear that the CPPA does not require a consumer to pay money to be entitled to its protections. Facebook benefits enormously from consumers’ providing their attention and personal data, which it uses to target the ads it sells, and that should entitle consumers to fairness and legal protection when interacting with the site.”
The brief submitted on behalf of the Amici Curiae can be found on Consumer Reports’ website. The Attorney General of the District of Columbia also submitted an amicus brief. Read more on The Washington Post and Consumer Reports.
The case is Muslim Advocates v. Zuckerberg, Sandberg, Kaplan, Martin & Facebook, Inc., No. 2021 CA 001114B in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Civil Division.