Facebook may have just stepped on a legal landmine amid an ongoing battle with journalist Laura Loomer – after the Silicon Valley giant claimed in a motion to dismiss Loomer’s lawsuit that it can bar the political activist under their rights as a publisher, according to RT.
Notably, Facebook has long defined itself as a tech company which simply provides a platform for users’ free speech – maintaining that they’re a neutral party which is protected from legal repercussions.
“Under well-established law, neither Facebook nor any other publisher can be liable for failing to publish someone else’s message,” reads the company’s motion to dismiss Loomer’s defamation lawsuit – adding that terms like “dangerous” or “promoting hate” cannot be factually verified, and are therefore protected opinions for a publisher according to the report. That said, the company claims it never applied either term to Loomer despite banning her under their “dangerous individuals” policy.
The company may have just stepped on a landmine, however. As RT notes:
Defining itself as a publisher opens Facebook up to lawsuits for defamation and other liability for the content users publish, something they were previously immunized against. All the lies, personal attacks, and smears launched by users going forward can now be laid at Facebook’s feet. That’s a Pandora’s box they might not want to open, legal analyst and radio host Lionel told RT.
Platforms like Twitter, Google, and – until now, apparently – Facebook are protected from the legal consequences of their users’ speech by section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Facebook even makes reference to section 230 later in its motion, suggesting that it is trying to have its cake and eat it too.
Lionel points out that Facebook could go back to life as a platform, if it was willing to sacrifice its usefulness to those in power by allowing some political speech to reach users and blocking the rest. –RT
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