Facebook wins case over anti-Jewish page

Getty Images

A top appeals court sided with Facebook on Friday in a case over a page on the website calling for violence against Jewish people.

A three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a lower court’s decision to dismiss the case, because Facebook cannot be held responsible for the content on its site, no matter how egregious.

ADVERTISEMENT
The decision is a victory for tech companies that allow users to publish material online and confirms provisions of a law that has been crucial for many social media sites.  

In 2011, conservative lawyer Larry Klayman sued Facebook over a group page on the site called “Third Palestinian Intifada,” which encouraged Muslims to rise up and kill Jewish people.

The Internet giant took the page down after a request from Israel's public diplomacy ministry, but Klayman said that it was not fast enough. The company’s move “amount[ed] to a threat of the use of force against non-Muslims, and particularly Jews,” he said. 

In siding with Facebook, the court relied upon a portion of the 1996 Communications Decency Act that protects social media companies from being liable for content published by others.

Even with a “generous reading of the complaint,” Judge Patricia Ann Millett wrote in the court’s decision, “the Communications Decency Act forbids this suit.”

Klayman claimed that a “special relationship” between Facebook and its users made the company responsible for online content, but Millett claimed his argument “does not work.”

Facebook’s legal section, she noted, includes the warning: "Facebook is not responsible for the actions, content, information, or data of third parties.”

“The plain text of the Statement thus disavows the legal relationship that Klayman asserts,” she wrote.