The online forum Investor Village is seeking to immediately appeal a judge's refusal to allow it to pursue a class-action lawsuit against Facebook for allegedly overstating the accuracy of ad targeting on the platform.
In papers filed Tuesday with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, IntegrityMessageBoards.com, which operates Investor Village, says U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton held the company “to an impossible standard” when she ruled it couldn't proceed on behalf of a class of advertisers.
The company adds that Hamilton's ruling effectively ends the case, given the costs of litigation and “minimal” damages available if it proceeds only on its own behalf.
“Facebook made billions on the promise that it could deliver ads to Facebook users based on their 'interests' (what they like), 'behaviors' (how they act), and so-called 'partner categories' that leveraged third-party data,” Investor Village writes in its new court papers, which ask the 9th Circuit to hear an appeal of Hamilton's ruling.
The company adds that Facebook data showed the ads went to people who weren't part of the intended audience more than half the time.
“Rather than come clean, Facebook covered up the truth,” Investor Village writes.
The legal battle dates to 2018, when Investor Village alleged in a class-action complaint that Facebook misrepresented advertisers' ability to target ads to users in specific demographic groups.
Investor Village said that in August of 2015, it used Facebook's ad manager to run a campaign aimed at U.S. investors with more than $250,000 in household income, who owned homes and were between the ages of 45 and 65. Forty percent of the "likes" generated by the campaign came from outside that target group, the advertiser alleged.
Investor Village claimed it was misled by statements it saw Facebook's Ads Manager interface about ad targeting.
Hamilton said that claim wouldn't support a class-action lawsuit because Investor Village hadn't shown that all advertisers using the Ad Manager interface saw similar statements, or that everyone who saw those statements came away with the same views of Facebook's targeting capability.
“Many putative class members were not 'exposed' to the interface,” Hamilton wrote, adding that many advertisers use ad agencies or consultants to run campaigns.
She added that many advertisers who saw the interface had the kind of prior experience that “tends to preclude them from reasonably developing a 'false impression'” about Facebook's ad targeting abilities.
But Investor Village argues in its new papers that its circumstances were typical of other potential class members, even if not identical.
“The district court focused entirely on perceived differences in circumstances without explaining how those differences impacted the substance of the claims,” the company writes.
It adds that Hamilton's ruling “ignored a raft of case law holding that defendants that make misrepresentations common to their products cannot defeat typicality by pointing to differences in the products individual class members purchased.”