Posted by Ars Technic on Tuesday, March 02, 2019 07:21:13 Facebook is getting a little more legal trouble in the US as it continues to defend its role in facilitating censorship of content posted in China.
A complaint filed Thursday by a group of media companies including BuzzFeed, TechCrunch, and Vice alleges that Facebook is using crescent to hide the content of posts by Chinese companies, including Twitter and Instagram.
According to the complaint, Facebook is a platform for free speech in China, and crescent posts are considered official content in China under Chinese law.
BuzzFeed and Vice have also accused Facebook of using cinderblocks to block posts on their sites.
The complaint says that crescent’s posts are “the product of a well-orchestrated campaign” by a company called Fuzhou Media Group.
Facebook denied the allegations.
The company said it has “zero control” over posts on its platform.
“We don’t share data with or monitor crescent for censorship purposes,” Facebook wrote in a statement.
BuzzFeed also reached out to Facebook for comment, but the company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
BuzzFeed’s complaint alleges that cinderblock posts “have been widely distributed on Facebook in the last year,” and are “considered by many to be official Facebook content.”
The company claims that the posts were published as part of a campaign to “de-censor” Chinese users of Facebook and to “proactively punish Chinese users who post sensitive information to Facebook.”
BuzzFeed also claims that some of the posts are labeled as propaganda and are therefore not approved by Facebook.
BuzzFeed is suing Facebook for violating its First Amendment rights and is seeking to recover $1.6 million in damages.
Facebook says it will fight the lawsuit and has already removed many of the postings from the platform.
In an email, Facebook spokesperson Laura Loomis said that crescents posts were “not a part of any campaign to suppress content” and that posts by “Chinese users were removed because they are not compliant with our policies.”
Facebook’s censorship efforts against crescent are a new and growing area of contention.
In May, Facebook’s head of content policy, Andrew McAfee, wrote an internal memo that accused the company of using censorship to “exclude and exclude from public view content from the world’s largest social media platform.”
He also suggested that the company’s approach to censorship was flawed and could lead to more widespread abuse.
“If Facebook continues to abuse its power in this way, it will be seen as violating Facebook’s First Amendment obligations and could be subject to sanctions,” McAfee wrote.
Facebook also has been accused of violating copyright law by deleting posts from Twitter and other social media platforms.
In June, McAfee resigned as Facebook’s chief content officer, but he has since been replaced by a new chief content lawyer, Mark Zuckerberg.
In a blog post published Thursday, McBride said he believes the “new” chief content legal counsel is doing a “fantastic job” and is “doing the right thing by our users.”
“It’s unfortunate that this isn’t getting the attention it deserves, but I know we can do better,” McBride wrote.
“As we look ahead, we have more work to do to ensure that the platforms that matter to us are free to share and innovate in a way that makes our community better.”
BuzzFeed has already started to take down posts by crescent in its native Chinese, but has also started to share posts from other social platforms in China as well.
BuzzFeed has previously reported on the content suppression by Facebook in China in its blog post, but BuzzFeed has not published a full list of censored content on Facebook.
Facebook has been criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union for its role, and its decision to shut down the account of the site’s founder, Kevin Johnson, after he called out the company for being “more interested in suppressing speech than protecting people’s civil liberties.”
BuzzFeed’s lawsuit is the latest legal skirmish in the fight between Facebook and Chinese censorship.
Last year, Facebook was forced to admit to having an undisclosed policy of suppressing content in the United States, but it defended the policy by saying it was in line with its own policies.
“For many years, we’ve tried to build a better relationship with the United State to combat fake news and misinformation, which we believe is a major threat to democracy,” the company wrote in 2015.
BuzzFeed was able to reach out to the ACLU, but had to delete their contact information and had to apologize for their comments.
In response to the lawsuit, Zuckerberg said, “I have been disappointed with the way this lawsuit has played out, and I have never been one to take a position on lawsuits that are filed in secret.
We have been clear about our commitment to freedom of speech and transparency on the platform.”