Meta and Activision Face Lawsuit from Families of Uvalde School Shooting Victims

The families of the victims of the Uvalde, Texas school shooting have initiated a lawsuit against Meta and Call of Duty developer Activision. They allege that these companies promoted the use of firearms to underage boys, which influenced the shooter. The lawsuit claims both Meta and Activision “knowingly exposed the shooter to the weapon, conditioned him to see it as the solution to his problems, and trained him to use it.” This type of claim has been directed at video game companies before but without success.

Filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of about 45 family members, the lawsuit accuses Activision and Meta of “grooming” young men towards violent acts. On May 24, 2022, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos committed a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, resulting in 21 deaths.

Meta and Activision Face Lawsuit from Families of Uvalde School Shooting Victims

The lawsuit describes how the gunman played Call of Duty obsessively, developing marksmanship skills and earning in-game rewards through significant time investment. It also mentions that the game features the AR-15, the same weapon used in the shooting. Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges that Instagram, owned by Meta, showed Ramos numerous images glorifying combat, thus “courting” him with aggressive marketing.

In addition to suing Activision and Meta, the families are also targeting Daniel Defense, the manufacturer of the AR-15 used in the shooting. The lawsuit contends that Daniel Defense markets its weapons to minors on Instagram by glorifying combat. Although Meta’s rules ban the sale of firearms on its platforms, the gunman purchased the AR-15 directly from Daniel Defense’s website, not through Instagram.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act generally protects platforms from civil lawsuits arising from user-generated content. However, the case is complicated by the focus on targeted advertising. Meta did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

Josh Koskoff, the attorney for the Uvalde families, stated, “Companies like Instagram and Activision do more than just allow gun companies to reach consumers — they underwrite and mainstream violence to struggling adolescents. Instagram should stop enabling the marketing of AR-15s to kids by gun companies, and Activision should stop training and habituating kids to kill. It’s that simple.”

Families of Uvalde School Shooting Victims are also targeting Daniel Defense, the manufacturer of the AR-15 used in the shooting

Video game companies have consistently rejected the notion that video games cause real-world violence, a claim frequently made by politicians following mass shootings. Research generally supports the position that video games do not lead to violent behaviour. Previous lawsuits against video game companies for similar incidents have failed.

In a statement, Activision’s head of corporate communications, Delaney Simmons, said, “Millions of people around the world enjoy video games without turning to horrific acts.”

Josh Koskoff, the attorney representing the Uvalde families, previously secured a $73 million settlement for the families of Sandy Hook school shooting victims from gun manufacturer Remington. This context suggests that while lawsuits against video game companies have failed, there might be a precedent for holding gun manufacturers accountable under certain circumstances.

The lawsuit brought by the families of the Uvalde victims against Meta, Activision, and Daniel Defense raises complex issues about the influence of media and advertising on young people. While video game companies maintain that their products do not incite real-world violence, the outcome of this case could potentially influence future litigation and the responsibilities of media and tech companies in content dissemination.

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Onsa Mustafa

Onsa is a Software Engineer and a tech blogger who focuses on providing the latest information regarding the innovations happening in the IT world. She likes reading, photography, travelling and exploring nature.

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