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ASU regents sues Facebook over Instagram account advertising ‘ASU COVID parties’

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Screenshot of the Instagram account taken July 20.

PHOENIX (AP) – Arizona State University regents are suing in federal court Facebook and the owner of an Instagram account that advertised “ASU COVID parties” online.

The regents say an account with the Instagram handle “asu_covid.parties” was sharing misinformation about the coronavirus to students and claimed to be throwing large parties as students returned for fall semester classes on Aug. 21.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Arizona, says the account is improperly using the school’s logos and trademarks.

It is unclear who runs the account. ASU’s lawsuit names “John Doe aka ‘asu_covid.parties’” as the defendant alongside Facebook.

A direct message to the account seeking comment on the lawsuit Thursday evening was not returned.

It appears that the account has since been removed or deleted as of Aug. 22.

The account claimed it would be holding parties at foreign consulates to avoid COVID-19 restrictions at ASU, although there has been no evidence that any person associated with the account has thrown any coronavirus-related parties.

The lawsuit alleges the account engaged in the unauthorized use of the university’s trademark and school colors, known as “trade dress.” One alumnus threatened to cut off support for ASU because the person thought the account was affiliated with the university, the lawsuit says. The account has also spread false information about the university, ASU argues.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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