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Mike Huckabee Files Lawsuit Against Meta Platforms for False Endorsements

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On behalf of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Poynter Law Group has filed a lawsuit against Meta Platforms, Inc.—the parent company of Facebook and Instagram—in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. The complaint alleges that Meta approved and profited from advertisements it placed on its social media platform that made false claims about Governor Huckabee and exploited his name, image, and likeness without his authorization.

These advertisements falsely claimed that Governor Huckabee used and endorsed Fortin CBD gummies to treat a four-year battle with an auto-immune disease that he did not suffer from. The advertisements also falsely claimed that Governor Huckabee was the CEO of Fortin and would be leaving his show on Trinity Broadcasting Network to run the company. The advertisements invoked this fictitious title as a ruse to convince would-be consumers to quickly buy Fortin’s CBD gummies before they sold out. Unfortunately, some of Governor Huckabee’s fans believed these false advertisements were legitimate and purchased the CBD gummies because of the Governor’s alleged affiliation with company and fabricated endorsement of the product.

One advertisement took Facebook users to a website that appeared to be Fox News but wasn’t. This website attributed multiple made-up quotes to Governor Huckabee, including:

  1. “My health has not been good for years. I was in a four-year battle with this autoimmune disease, but without getting into all the details, the bottom line is it would leave all my major muscle in pain pretty much 24 hours a day. This led to extreme sleep deprivation too, which further weekend my immune system[.]”
  2. “Some older men and women see CBD as having the hallucinogenic effects like ‘pot’ or ‘weed’ but that’s not true at all. CBD has no THC whatsoever, which means there are absolutely no hallucinogenic effects. As a God-fearing Christian, I would never in my life take drugs of any kind. CBD is completely safe, but the negative stigma around it meant there was still a problem with the CBD products on the market.”
  3. “After connecting with this world[-]renowned team of doctors and scientists who found a solution to this problem, I can confidently say CBD is the future of medicine in America. This product is all natural, and is especially helpful for older people like myself [sic] battling high blood pressure, chronic pain, and sleep deprivation. I’ve never felt healthier[,] and I owe it all to this miracle.”
  4. “CBD cured me and can save American lives[.]”

Naturally, Governor Huckabee was frustrated that Facebook approved advertisements that spread lies about him while exploiting his name, image, and likeness. But he was even more upset that Facebook hosted advertisements that were so clearly fraudulent and allowed them to stay online and take advantage of his millions of fans.

Facebook’s hosting of fraudulent advertisements for CBD products is nothing new. Since as early as 2021, news outlets have reported similar instances where Facebook has approved and maintained advertisements that unauthorizedly exploit the name, image, and likeness of other media personalities to sell CBD products. Some of these fraudulent advertisements included: “Laura Ingraham in the Hot Seat with Big Pharma Following Latest Business Venture”; “Big Pharma In Outrage Over Jeanine Pirro’s Latest Business Venture – She Fires Back With This!”; “Fox News Cutting Ties With Sean Hannity Over Breach of Contract?”; and “Big Phrama [sic] in Outrage Over Sanjay Gupta’s Latest Business Venture – He Fires Back With This!”

Fortunately, the Arkansas General Assembly passed the Frank Broyles Publicity Rights Protection Act in 2016 to protect Arkansans from this very thing and hold companies like Meta accountable. This law recognizes Arkansans’ hard work and accomplishments by protecting their names, voices, signatures, photographs, and likenesses from exploitation and unauthorized commercial use. Governor Huckabee also brings invasion of privacy claims—specifically, appropriation and false light—against Meta, as well as a claim for unjust enrichment for the monies Meta reaped from hosting these unlawful advertisements. Last year, nearly 98% of Meta’s $134 billion in revenue came from advertisements.

Governor Huckabee is represented by Scott Poynter, Daniel Holland, Scout Snowden, and Clay Ellis of Poynter Law Group, PLLC. Poynter Law Group is a Little Rock-based law firm with proven experience prosecuting complex civil, corporate, consumer, environmental, employment, and medical claims. Poynter Law Group is excited to represent Governor Huckabee in his case against Meta.