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Monday, May 27, 2024 | Back issues
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Facebook Ducks Suit on Anti-Semitic User Pages

(CN) - Facebook is not liable for a group page that threatened: "Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once Muslims have killed all the Jews," a federal judge ruled.

In 2011, Larry Klayman, the founder of advocacy groups Freedom Watch and Judicial Watch, sued Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg for negligence and assault, claiming they had refused to take down promptly an offensive Facebook page titled "Third Palestinian Intifada."

Klayman said the page "called for an uprising beginning on May 15, 2011, after Muslim prayers [were] completed, announcing and threatening that 'Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once Muslims have killed all the Jews.'"

The page had more than 360,000 participants, and three similar "Intifada pages" had more than 7,000 subscribers, according to the complaint. Intifada is an Arabic word that is generally translated into English as "uprising" or "rebellion."

Klayman alleged that Facebook refused to remove the page "for many days," despite a request from Israel's Public Diplomacy Minister. It eventually removed it "begrudgingly," according to the complaint. Klayman sought more than $1 billion in damages and asked a court to permanently bar Facebook from allowing users to publish the "Intifada pages" and similar content.

Facebook asked a federal judge in Washington to dismiss the action, claiming immunity under the Communications Decency Act of 1996.

This law shields providers of "interactive computer services" from liability for publishing information created by third parties. It defines an "interactive computer service" as a service or system that provides access to a computer server to multiple users.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton agreed last week that the law makes Facebook immune to suit.

Facebook, like most websites, is an interactive computer service provider, and is not responsible for creating or developing the offending content, Walton found.

What's more, Klayman argued only that Facebook "encouraged" the Intifada pages by failing to remove them promptly, according to the ruling. He did not allege that it contributed to the content of the pages, the judge found.

Walton rejected Klayman's argument that Facebook's liability stemmed from its violation of "contractual, quasi-contractual and fiduciary obligations," not from its status as publisher of information.

Klayman did not state a breach of contract claim in his complaint, and failed to amend the complaint when given the opportunity to do so, according to the ruling.

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