Lawsuit: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube censor voices they dislike

Lawsuit: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube censor voices they dislike (Courtesy MGN Online)

WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) -- A new lawsuit filed in federal court alleges the Department of Justice is allowing social media businesses to censor free speech under the Communications Decency Act.

The plaintiffs, writers of non-profit groups including Jihad Watch and American Freedom Defense Initiative, claim Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube use government-sanctioned discrimination and the suppression of free speech

"The federal government is empowering discrimination and the censorship of speech in these vast democratic forums."

The lawsuit argues Section 230 of the CDA isn't tied to a specific category of speech, "nor does it provide any type of objective standard whatsoever." Instead, they call the language "vague" in describing what can be censored by the companies.

One of the writers, Pamela Geller, states she has been warned and blocked on Facebook repeatedly for reporting "about violent and stealthy jihad activity, sharia oppression of women and non-Muslims," and other human rights activities.

Some posts were censored as hate speech, and photos posted were removed because they violated the "Facebook community standards"

The post was up for two weeks, and received more than 10,000 likes.

Other posts were removed, and referred to the Facebook Community Standards.

Geller argues she was exposing the truth in her writings.

Calling Facebook's restrictions on content "discriminatory," the court document claims it "is evidenced by the fact that Facebook allows vicious posts and pages against Israel to stand, but when Plaintiff Geller and others expose the truth behind that Islamic hatred, the speech is prohibited."

The suit further claims Facebook has a bias as seen in The Big Facebook Experiment.

Facebook reportedly closed a pro-Israel group's page, but did not close the pro-Palestinian group's page.

The Wall Street Journal reported, "After taking down the anti-Israel page, Facebook released a statement on Jan. 5 saying that 'Facebook does not tolerate hate speech, including against people on the basis of their nationality. We review all reports and take down such content. Both these pages have now been removed from Facebook.'"

"The Facebook Community Standards are vague and standard-less restrictions that Facebook arbitrarily and discriminatorily applies to suppress the speech and activities of certain speakers and organizations that it disfavors," the lawsuit continues. It claims those standards are made possible by the Communications Decency Act.

YouTube and Twitter are other social media organizations listed as censors of free speech under the CDA.

The lawsuit specifically names Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who has a 5 percent share of Twitter. "The sharia justice system that bin Talal's family promotes strictly enforces sharia blasphemy strictures."

Sinclair Broadcast Group has reached out to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for comment.

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