US Court Approves Sex-Trafficking Lawsuits Against Facebook
A court in Texas has dismissed Facebook’s appeal to halt three separate lawsuits from underage survivors of sexual exploitation who say the company is enabling sex trafficking.
Houston’s 14th Court of Appeals on Tuesday rejected a motion by the social media platform requesting immunity from the claims, brought by three unidentified plaintiffs against Facebook and Instagram in 2018 and 2019.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the girls were 13, 14 and 16 years old when they were recruited by pimps through the company’s apps.
The plaintiffs are seeking to hold Facebook liable for damages resulting from their contact with predators on the social media platforms, following which they say they were later trafficked and forced into sexual exploitation.
Facebook sought protection from the victim’s claims by appealing to the Communications Decency Act, introduced in 1996 to regulate indecent material online with additional provisions partly insulating tech companies from liability for the actions of people who use their platforms.
As part of a previous refusal by the District Court in Harris County to dismiss the three lawsuits, Judge Steven Kirkland pointed out that Facebook remains liable under the 2017 Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, which amended the earlier legislation and made it illegal for tech companies to knowingly enable sexual exploitation.
Facebook declined to acknowledge OCCRP’s request for comment.