Is Facebook a neutral platform or a publisher?
The company, this week, invoked its rights as a publisher while defending the suspension of conservative political activist and conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer's account.
“Under well-established law, neither Facebook nor any other publisher can be liable for failing to publish someone else’s message,” Facebook’s response to Loomer’s defamation suit says.
Although being a publisher would allow Facebook to restrict opinions that it considers unacceptable, it also leaves open the possibility of it being sued for what its users post.
As a social media platform, Facebook, like Twitter, is presently shielded by Section 230 of the US Communications Decency Act from liabilities arising out of contents generated by its users
“Whatever they say – platform or publisher – their words will haunt them legally from now on,” a legal expert told RT.
It’s not the first time Facebook is identifying itself as a publisher. Last year, in a California courtroom, the tech giant's attorneys argued that “Facebook is a publisher and a company that makes editorial decisions,” according to the Guardian.
“The publisher discretion is a free speech right irrespective of what technological means is used. A newspaper has a publisher function whether they are doing it on their website, in a printed copy or through the news alerts,” a lawyer representing the company said back then.