Anti-vaccination group sues Facebook over ‘censoring’ posts
A prominent anti-vaccination group filed a lawsuit against Facebook and its fact-checkers for rejecting their ads and “censoring” their posts that carried debunked misinformation on vaccines and 5G networks.
Children’s Health Defense (CHD), a group founded by anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., claimed in a San Francisco federal court that Facebook, its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, PolitiFact, Science Feedback and the Poynter Institute have “privatized” the First Amendment by putting warning labels on its page and disabling the organization’s ability to fundraise on the platform.
The claims made about vaccines by CHD contradict the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), which agree vaccines are generally not risky or harmful.
Last year, Facebook began to crack down on anti-vaccination information, adding a label to CHD’s page noting “this page posts about vaccines” and linking to information from the CDC.
The complaint claims that these “falsely disparaging” labels caused traffic to their page to drop by 95 percent.
Noting that House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) asked Facebook to tackle misinformation last February, CHD claims the platform is a government actor that should be barred from limiting users’ speech.
Judges have previously dismissed other lawsuits claiming that Facebook and other social media platforms are bound by the First Amendment.
Social media sites have also faced scrutiny from conservative lawmakers who claim they impose a political bias when fact-checking or labeling posts.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.