— Florida is suing Google, YouTube and Facebook on Thursday, alleging that the technology giant violated federal law and that the company has failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the spread of harmful content and that it has failed “to take any meaningful steps to control and prevent future spread of malicious content.”
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Jacksonville and brought by Florida’s attorney general, was filed against Google and Facebook by Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, who is also a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
“The government has a duty to protect our people and property, but it also has a responsibility to protect the people who create, disseminate, distribute and profit from those products and services,” Bondi said in a statement.
“Today, the government is filing this lawsuit because it knows it cannot do both.”
Bondi said the complaint comes after Google has paid out $20 million to settle complaints from more than 10,000 individuals alleging that they were defamed and misled in the creation of false content and videos.
A YouTube video produced by the Florida Institute for Discovery Journalism and edited by the company’s YouTube channel falsely claimed that the founder of the “Bully Pulpit” website, which was also falsely promoted, was responsible for spreading anti-gay hate speech.
The company has been ordered to take steps to remove the false video, and YouTube has paid $100,000 in damages.
Bondis’ office declined to comment on whether the state was seeking damages in the case.
Google said in an emailed statement that it is aware of the lawsuit.
“We have taken steps to address the content that has been posted on YouTube, and we are committed to doing so, regardless of how it is reported to us,” the statement said.
“We are working with the state of Florida to ensure that the content we remove violates local, state and federal law.
The company is committed to protecting people’s rights and free speech, and will continue to do so.”
The lawsuit claims that Google and YouTube failed to properly vet content and take reasonable measures to prevent future dissemination of malicious or offensive content, including by posting warnings on the video’s description page and deleting videos that promote content that is false, misleading or false.
The lawsuit also alleges that YouTube and Google fail to take “reasonable steps to stop content from spreading to new audiences that are not already aware of it.”
The complaint also alleges the company failed to provide adequate training to employees who were responsible for developing videos and failing to notify them of their responsibility for removing malicious or false content.
Bondigas office said it will not file a motion to dismiss the case because the suit is based on the federal Communications Decency Act, a federal law that prohibits websites from making content that incites violence or hatred.
The federal government passed the law in 1997 to protect children from inappropriate content.
The lawsuit also accuses YouTube and YouTube’s parent company Google, which owns YouTube, of failing to properly enforce a policy that requires them to remove videos if they contain “obscene or violent content.”
The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages and an injunction to prevent YouTube from further harming its reputation and those of other businesses.