Three top officials at Facebook parent company Meta, including former UK deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, were “inadvertently” accused in a federal lawsuit of taking bribes to sink competitors to OnlyFans, an online content-sharing site popular with adult entertainers.
Since February, a group of adult entertainers have been suing Meta, its Facebook and Instagram sub-brands, as well as OnlyFans and its parent company, accusing the companies and a trio of unnamed Meta execs of using tools meant to screen out terrorist and other dangerous content to blacklist rival adult sites.
In a Tuesday filing, attorneys for OnlyFans’s parent company Fenix Internet, LLC, named the executives at issue as Nick Clegg, Meta’s VP of global affairs; Nicola Mendelsohn, VP of the company’s global business team; and a third leader named Cristian Perrella, listed on a LinkedIn page as Facebook’s trust and safety director, Gizmodo reports.
In another document the following day, Fenix said it had “inadvertently unredacted” the names of the executives and asked the court to remove the document from the record.
Previously, filings contained mention of three unnamed “John Doe” executives at Meta, who the suit accuses of taking bribes in the alleged scheme via offshore bank accounts.
“As we make clear in our motion to dismiss, we deny these allegations as they lack facts, merit, or anything that would make them plausible. The allegations are baseless,” a Meta spokesperson told the site.
In court filings, OnlyFans has called the action from entertainers Dawn Dangaard, Kelly Gilbert, Jennifer Allbaugh a “meritless” lawsuit.
The redaction drama is the latest twist in a suit that reads like a spy novel for the social media age.
Last week, a lawyer for the plaintiffs submitted a still-sealed filing containing copies of wire transfers involved in the alleged scheme, which they claim come from an anonymous tipster and show the Meta executives using Philippines bank accounts to accent the OnlyFans money.
The social media has argued in court that the legal action doesn’t meet the standard of plausibility to even bring a suit, and that even if the alleged scheme did occur, Meta itself wouldn’t be liable for the actions of a “rogue” employee and would be protected from prioritising various content on its sites by the First Amendment and various federal laws.
The highly charged lawsuit isn’t the only challenge facing Mr Clegg.
He said in September he’s the one deciding whether Facebook should reinstate Donald Trump, after he was temporarily banned from the platform following the January 6 riots at the US Capitol.
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