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How to Sue Facebook

Claudia Diaz - California Small Claims - April 21, 2023

Start by sending Facebook a demand letter.

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    In the age of social media, it is not uncommon to see individuals posting on online forums, such as Reddit, asking about how to sue social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or others for deactivating or disabling their accounts.

    In the article below, we discuss how to sue Facebook in small claims court, the reasons why your account may have been disabled, and provide examples of lawsuits filed against Facebook.  

    Did you know we have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create a demand letter? Check out our demand letter tool.

    Common Types of Small Claims Lawsuits Against Facebook

    Case Facts 

    Case Outcome

    A San Mateo small claims lawsuit was filed against Facebook for disabling the plaintiff's personal and business accounts

    The plaintiff is seeking financial damages of up to $10,000 due to unauthorized transactions that appeared on their credit card, which was on file with Facebook and allegedly hacked. Additionally, the lawsuit also cites several other violations of privacy.

    The court awarded the person suing the total $10,000 they were seeking, plus an additional $100 in court costs

    A San Mateo small claims lawsuit was filed against Facebook for blocking a business name from being written on Facebook’s platform, Messenger, Whatsapp, and Instagram applications.  

    The person suing was seeking a total of $10,000, which included both financial damages for lost revenue and the costs associated with rebranding their business with a new name. In addition to the lawsuit, the person suing also filed a report with the Federal Trade Commission against Facebook for their alleged actions.

    The court awarded the person suing a total of $1,250, plus an additional $90 in court costs. It is unclear from the court’s decision why they awarded this amount. 

    A San Mateo small claims lawsuit was filed against Facebook for disabling their accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp

    The person suing was seeking a total of $8,000 which included lost wages because the jobs they were applying to required a Facebook profile

    The court dismissed this case. Usually, dismissals happen when the parties are able to reach a settlement before the hearing, or they may have closed their case for other reasons. 

    *Please remember, each small claims case is unique, and the outcome of a particular case cannot be guaranteed. Ultimately, it is up to the judge to decide the outcome of a case based on the facts they are presented with.

    Reasons Your Facebook Account Has Been Disabled

    There are several reasons why people may be getting locked out of their Facebook or Instagram accounts, including:

    • Hacking. Facebook will lock someone out of their account to prevent further unauthorized access if they believe the account has been hacked.

    • Violation of community standards. If someone violates Facebook’s community standards by posting inappropriate or offensive content, their account may be locked or disabled. Sometimes people have been hacked, and the hacker is the one posting unauthorized and inappropriate content. 

    • Verification issues. Facebook may lock someone’s account if they cannot verify their identity. 

    What To Do Before Suing Facebook in Small Claims Court

    Review Facebook’s Terms and Conditions 

    It is recommended that you first check Facebook's terms and conditions (referred to as Terms of Service) before suing them in small claims court because these terms and conditions may contain important provisions that could impact your case. Facebook’s terms and conditions are written to favor Facebook, obviously, however, it will be up to the judge to determine whether to enforce their terms and how to interpret their terms

    One important provision we want to point out is Facebook’s Dispute provision: 

    • Under the Disputes section of Facebook’s Terms of Service, it states you agree to bring disputes between you and Meta Products (Facebook’s new legal name) to a state court located in San Mateo County. Meta has its headquarters in Menlo Park, a city in San Mateo County. 

    • This means you can bring your small claims case against Facebook in San Mateo Small Claims Court. Small claims are part of the state court system. 

    • You may be able to bring your case against Facebook in another court. However, you may have a harder time establishing what power, legally referred to as jurisdiction, that other court has over Facebook.   

    Submit Appeal or Review Form 

    Both Facebook and Instagram have Help Centers where you can find information about what to do if your accounts have been disabled or deactivated. Facebook also has a Business Help Center for people who use Facebook for their businesses. 

    If your personal Facebook account has been disabled by mistake, for violating Facebook’s Community Standards:  

    • Go to the link here.

    • Fill out the information and submit your profile for review. 

    If your Instagram account has been disabled or deactivated by mistake, for violating Instagram’s Community Guidelines:

    • Go to the link here

    • Fill out the information and submit your account for review.   

    Send a Demand Letter

    A demand letter is a letter that outlines a set of requests you want Facebook to perform. For example, if you want Facebook to activate your account after it has been disabled, request this in a demand letter. 

    Here are some reasons why you should send a demand letter before suing in small claims court: 

    • A demand letter will signal to Facebook that you are serious about the problem and willing to take action

    • A demand letter is useful if you want to inform Facebook that if they do not meet your demands, you intend to sue them in small claims court. 

    • California small claims court requires you to demand payment before suing a business in small claims court. A demand letter can be used to fulfill this requirement. 

    Did you know we have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create a demand letter? Check out our demand letter tool.

    File a Complaint 

    Besides suing in small claims court, you can also file a business complaint against Facebook for disabling your account with one of the following government or nongovernment organizations: 

    • The Federal Trade Commission. The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) is the nation’s consumer protection agency. The FTC's main mission is to protect consumers from unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices in the marketplace. Learn how to file a complaint with the FTC here

    • Your state’s Attorney General’s Office. State attorney generals are the primary enforcers of consumer protection laws and handle consumer complaints against businesses like Facebook. Usually, consumer complaints can be filed with an Attorney General online or by mail. 

    • The Better Business Bureau. The Better Business Bureau (“BBB”), is a non-profit that serves as an intermediary between businesses, like Facebook, and consumers. If you have a complaint you would like to file against Facebook, the BBB allows you to file complaints and reviews online. 

    San Mateo Small Claims Court Facts 

    As discussed above, you can bring your small claims lawsuit against Facebook in San Mateo Small Claims Courts.

    Just like all other small claims courts, San Mateo small claims court was designed to help everyday people resolve their disputes against other individuals or businesses, in an affordable, informal, and efficient way. Small claims court typically handles cases where the amount of money involved is relatively small, usually for up to $10,000.

    Here are some quick facts about suing in San Mateo County: 

    Court Location 

    San Mateo Superior Court

    Hall of Justice & Records 

    400 County Center

    Redwood City, CA 94063

    Filing Fees 

    $0- $75

    Serving Costs 

    $0- $125

    Virtual Hearings 

    You may be able to attend your hearing virtually. 

    Hearing Dates 

    Hearings are scheduled within 30-75 days.

    Are Lawyers Allowed in Small Claims Court? 

    No, lawyers are not allowed to represent parties in San Mateo small claims court. 

    * Court filing fees and serving costs are $0 when you qualify for a court fee waiver.

    Steps to Filing a Lawsuit Against Facebook in Small Claims Court

    Here is an overview of how to sue Facebook in small claims court:

    1. Prepare the lawsuit. 

    2. File the lawsuit. 

    3. Serve Facebook. 

    4. Prepare for your small claims hearing against Facebook. 

    People Clerk can help you file and serve your small claims lawsuit against Facebook.

    Step 1: Prepare the Lawsuit  

    Prepare the lawsuit using the proper forms. These are usually available for download on your local small claims court website. The court will want to know (1) why you are suing Facebook, (2) how much you are suing Facebook for, and finally, (3) how you calculated the amount you are suing Facebook for.

    Who are you suing? 

    • In order to sue Facebook in a small claims court, you will need to make sure you have the right legal name and the correct mailing address for Facebook

    • This is necessary to make sure Facebook can be notified about the lawsuit later on. 

    • Here are some names we have seen Facebook refer themselves to; Facebook, Inc., Instagram, LLC, Meta Platforms, and Meta. It is very important that you find the correct name for Facebook to get a valid judgment against them.  

    • You may be able to find more information about Facebook and its correct legal name by going through their Terms of Service to see what names they use. Or you can run a search on the Secretary of State website in your State. 

    How much are you suing for? 

    • You need to explain in your small claims complaint form (used to initiate your claim) how you calculated the amount you are suing for

    • For example, you are a business owner, and Facebook disabled your business account. Since your account was disabled, you are not able to run your business properly, and your business suffers financial harm

    • We have also seen people sue Facebook over billing issues and calculate their damages by going over their bills. In these cases, the individual had their business account disabled, but they keep getting billed for ads still running even though they were not able to use their account anymore. 

    • The bottom line is you need to be able to state in your small claims form how you calculated the damages you are alleging occurred due to Facebook disabling your account. 

    Step 2: File the Lawsuit  

    Prepare the lawsuit against Facebook by using the proper forms, this is usually available for download on your local small claims court website. Here is a guide for California small claims and a guide for San Mateo small claims court

    There are several ways you may be able to file the lawsuit: 

    1. In person at your local small claims court, 

    2. By mail 

    3. Electronically (not available in all courts), 

    4. By fax (not available in all courts). 

    Step 3: Notify Facebook About the Small Claims Lawsuit

    Once you file your claim with the small claims court clerk, you will then need to “serve” (notify) Facebook about the small claims lawsuit. 

    Step 4: Prepare for Your Small Claims Hearing 

    Preparing for your small claims hearing is one of the most important steps, as the goal is to win the lawsuit against Facebook. Hence, the more prepared you are, the better you set yourself up for the hearing.

    To prepare to win at your small claims court hearing: 

    • Research the law. At this stage, you can also consider consulting with an attorney if you have questions about the claim you want to bring to court. 

    • Prepare your evidence. Your evidence should be geared towards showing the judge why Facebook owes you money damages for their conduct. You also want to have your evidence organized with titles, dates, and why that piece of evidence is important. We have seen people with really strong cases fail to win at their hearing because they couldn’t find the right piece of evidence to support their claims. People Clerk can help you organize your evidence in a judge-friendly evidence packet.

    • Prepare what to say. During the hearing, the judge will ask you why you are suing. The judge will then turn to Facebook, and ask for their side of the story. Start by addressing the judge as “your honor,” and from there, explain in a clear and concise manner what the dispute is about.  

    • Print enough copies of all your evidence. Make sure you have enough copies for yourself, Facebook, and the judge. 

    Learn about the 5 mistakes you should avoid making during your small claims hearing.


    Claudia Diaz

    Legal Educator @ People Clerk. Claudia holds a J.D. degree and is a certified mediator in New York and Florida. She has participated in dozens of small claims mediations in New York City courts.

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