Last Updated on September 17, 2019
In its response to independent journalist Laura Loomer’s lawsuit against the platform, Facebook refers to itself as a publisher, potentially foregoing protections afforded by Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act.
Facebook and other big tech platforms have long been protected by Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act, which places social media companies in a unique category that is neither part of the public forum or a publisher, meaning they can censor or ban any user they like without being responsible for any libel posted on the websites by users.
However, in a motion to dismiss Loomer’s lawsuit against the big tech company, Facebook’s legal counsel appears to specifically refer to it as a publisher:
Third, to the extent Ms. Loomer’s claim targets Facebook’s decision to deactivate her accounts, it is also deficient. Under well-established law, neither Facebook nor any other publisher can be liable for failing to publish someone else’s message.
Strangely, later in the motion, Facebook invokes Section 230, in what Reclaim The Net describes as a “mind boggling” stance.
Facebook’s mind-boggling claim that its First Amendment rights allow it to ban users for exercising their own First Amendment rights – and that’s not even the only puzzling and contradictory point from the filing.
Another is the way Facebook refers to itself as “a publisher” at one point – only to later in the same document invoke Section 230.
“(…) to the extent Ms. Loomer’s claim targets Facebook’s decision to deactivate her accounts, it is also deficient. Under well-established law, neither Facebook nor any other publisher can be liable for failing to publish someone else’s message. The First Amendment provides absolute protection for such decisions,” Facebook’s motion said on page 3.
But then on page 18, the motion refers to Section 230, a provision in the US Communications Decency Act (CDA).
Loomer is suing Facebook after the company banned her from the platform and labelled her a “hate figure” earlier this year. Facebook also banned Alex Jones, Paul Joseph Watson, and Milo Yiannopoulos simultaneously.