AFLC Sues Loretta Lynch Over Facebook Censorship

Robert Muise and David Yerushalmi of the American Freedom Law Center are suing the federal government, specifically the Department of Justice and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, on behalf of Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller. The issue is the discriminatory behavior of Facebook, YouTube, and other major social media, which favor Islam and discriminate against other religions by suppressing material critical of Islam. Such discrimination violates state law, which should override the federal protection against lawsuits granted to Facebook, etc.

Take a look at the complaint [pdf] — it has a wealth of relevant detail about the exact ways that the Internet giants suppress Islam-critical speech.

Below is the press release from AFLC:

Federal Government Authorizes Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to Censor “Anti-Islam” Speech; Lawsuit Filed

Today, the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, challenging Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) under the First Amendment.

Section 230 provides immunity from lawsuits to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, thereby permitting these social media giants to engage in government-sanctioned censorship and discriminatory business practices free from legal challenge.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, and Jihad Watch.

As alleged in the lawsuit, Geller and Spencer, along with the organizations they run, are often subject to censorship and discrimination by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube because of Geller’s and Spencer’s beliefs and views, which Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube consider expression that is offensive to Muslims.

Such discrimination, which is largely religion-based in that these California businesses are favoring adherents of Islam over those who are not, is prohibited in many states, but particularly in California by the state’s anti-discrimination law, which is broadly construed to prohibit all forms of discrimination. However, because of the immunity granted by the federal government, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are free to engage in their otherwise unlawful, discriminatory practices.

As set forth in the lawsuit, Section 230 of the CDA immunizes businesses such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube from civil liability for any action taken to “restrict access to or availability of material that” that they “consider[] to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.”

Robert Muise, AFLC co-founder and senior counsel, issued the following statement:

“Section 230 of the CDA confers broad powers of censorship upon Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube officials, who can silence constitutionally protected speech and engage in discriminatory business practices with impunity by virtue of this power conferred by the federal government in violation of the First Amendment.”

Muise went on to explain:

“Section 230 is a federal statute that alters the legal relations between our clients and Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, resulting in the withdrawal from our clients of legal protections against private acts. Consequently, per U.S. Supreme Court precedent, state action lies in our clients’ challenge under the First Amendment.”

David Yerushalmi, AFLC co-founder and senior counsel, added:

“Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have notoriously censored speech that they deem critical of Islam, thereby effectively enforcing blasphemy laws here in the United States with the assistance of the federal government.”

Yerushalmi concluded:

“It has been the top agenda item of Islamic supremacists to impose such standards on the West. Its leading proponents are the Muslim Brotherhood’s network of Islamist activist groups in the West and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which co-sponsored, with support from Obama and then-Secretary of State Clinton, a U.N. resolution which called on all nations to ban speech that could promote mere hostility to Islam. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are falling in line, and we seek to stop this assault on our First Amendment freedoms.”

19 thoughts on “AFLC Sues Loretta Lynch Over Facebook Censorship

  1. If anyone were wondering what happened to popular Facebook page To Hell With Political Correctness. On 6th July 2016 Facebook unpublished and banned this page, accusing it of breaking ‘Community Standards’ – a nice warm term, but in reality Facebook has begun censoring pages that honestly address mass immigration and Islamization. Within just 15 months THWPC grew to 88,000+ fans and a weekly engagement approaching 650,000. No post ever encouraged violence or lawbreaking. Decide for yourself what could be Facebook’s true motives in closing down THWPC.

  2. For once I am on the side of AFLC! Freedom of speech should be available for all, not just for some. Nobody protects the Catholic church from criticism, so why do the muslims think they are so super-special?

  3. I have to say I totally disagree with this lawsuit and would not support it, although I have contributed to the AFLC.

    The first amendment specifically forbids legislation on the freedom of the press, and the private press has every right to exclude contributions it doesn’t like. I don’t see any reason to trample on the first amendment, simply because exercising the freedom of the press results in an action I don’t like.

    If Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter engage in egregious censorship of Islamic criticism, and I have no doubt that they do, I’m limited to gnashing my teeth and trying to find an alternative. What I do not consider to be a legitimate action is to try to get the government or courts to enforce a law which is unconstitutional on the face of it.

    You can’t have it both ways. You can’t have a “heads I win” (the constitution gives me a right to say whatever I want), “tails you lose” (the government should force Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to display material they don’t want to display, in spite of the clear phrasing of the constitution).

    • The basis of the suit is that Congress,through this section 230, is doing indirectly what it is expressly prohibited from doing directly. Naming, censoring certain viewpoints by using private entities which, by virtue of this government-granted immunity, are in substance actors on behalf of the state.

      Without that government-granted immunity these actors would not be able to discriminate under a variety of laws, both federal and state, that expressly prohibit this sort of discriminatio.

      • Yes, the suit is a response to federal overreach. The law should have been struck down as unconstitutional, but neither the executive, the Congress, nor the federal courts observe the Constitution any longer. This is a last desperate attempt by AFLC to salvage the Bill of Rights.

        • I’m making the argument that it is not legitimate, under the first and fourteenth amendment, for state governments to censor viewpoints that are not criminal or advocating crimes.

          So, I disagree with the whole structure by which the federal government gives permission to the states to exempt providers from laws the states had no right to pass in the first place.

          In other words, if Facebook, YouTube, etc are privately owned and not operating under a government monopoly grant, they have a right to choose their business, including being discriminatory. And they are not monopolies, although they are BIG.

          Let’s get is down to small cases. You and Dymphna reserve the right to eliminate postings with expletives, postings that are offtrack or repetitive, or just postings you don’t like, because this is your website.

          Please tell me the difference between allowing you to select postings on your website, and allowing Facebook to select postings on its website, without legal harassment, or “lawfare”, meaning the litigant purposely costs the victim lawyer’s fees on a case without merit.

          And I absolutely do not believe the Bill of Rights applies to force private communications enterprises to not discriminate on the points of view they present.

          • No, I still don’t think you’ve quite got the idea. The federal bill exempted PRIVATE COMPANIES (e.g. Facebook) from being sued by individuals or organizations because their content was deleted or suppressed. I don’t see why the feds should be doing that in the first place.

          • Let’s try once more.

            The first amendment prevents the federal government from enacting legislation specifying or targeting religion or free speech. The fourteenth amendment extends the obligation to protect individual rights to state governments as well as the federal.

            Under the constitution, there is no federal, state, or common law that can cause the regulation of speech by citizens (including corporations).

            Therefore, I don’t see any basis for regulating the content of communications media such as Facebook. To my view, any state law banning discrimination by Facebook or any other media is unconstitutional. Therefore, any lawsuit claiming discrimination in content providing by a private corporation ought to be summarily thrown out of court. In other words, it is against the letter of the constitution for states to forbid discrimination in media content displayed by Facebook or YouTube.

            Apparently, the courts, in their usual denial of clear constitutional mandates, allowed the states to ban discrimination in content. The federal government then steps in, relieving the states of any legal worries about making specific exceptions to their banning discrimination in content. So, the corporations are exempt from being sued when they exercise the variance to the state anti-discrimination laws that the states provided.

            Now, Robert Spencer, Pam Geller, and the AFLC are suing the Justice Department on the grounds the federal government doesn’t have the right to exempt the corporations from lawsuits when the corporations are exercising the right that the state law gave them.

            My view remains: it’s very dangerous and completely unconstitutional to regulate the speech or lack thereof of private corporations, even if they are shilling for the Muslim Brotherhood.

            We’re one Supreme Court appointee away from the following scenario:
            A federal law is passed declaring that speech promoting hatred with the possibility of violence is not covered under the first amendment.
            A Supreme Court with 5 committed hard-leftists confirms the law.

            Game over.

            And we have already conceded the idea that speech content, other than libel or immediate incitement of violence, is legitimately regulated.

      • Your argument is that the federal legislation was overreaching by not allowing states to ignore the first and second amendment.

        By this logic, each state would have the right to forbid citizens from owning or carrying guns under any circumstances. It would simply be the federal government that could not enact such a blanket ban.

        I still think you can’t have it both ways. Are you saying the first amendment does not apply to state legislation?

        I have not heard any reason to change my mind that the private providers like Facebook and YouTube have the right to restrict their services. Especially since there are alternative social networks available:

        They just don’t have the widespread audience that Facebook does. I consider the attempt to force Facebook and YouTube through state legislation to provide services they don’t wish to as a form of rent-seeking.

        Now, I will grant you the federal legislation exempting them from state regulation is a covert attempt to enable censorship. The commitment of the Obama administration and the compliant Republican establishment to the loss of our liberties has no depth. But yet, I have to interpret laws in terms of the constitution, and I think there is no contest here.

  4. I was banned from FB 48 hours for a comment about Muslims I made. They are cracking down on any criticism and I’ll admit my comment was over the edge.

  5. I wish some wealthy conservative would create an alternative to Facebook or Twitter. Why should the Left control social media?

    • I’m with you there. Also, it’s not necessary that the social network server should be conservative. Using an alternative to Facebook, such as Google Plus, which is also socially liberal, would create a competition situation, and make both think twice before banning particular points of view.

      Perhaps we should explore existing alternatives.

      Choose one, announce it, and I’ll gladly join and join to your network.

  6. Why would the actions of these Government funded data collection social websites surprise the readers of GOV. If my memory serves me correctly was it not the proprietors of this website who posted that; in fact they are policing any and all posts and reserve the right to remove any content they disagree with. And if any visitor(s) don’t like it they can take a hike. It seems most websites that enjoy even the smallest degree of success practice their own form of superiority with a dose of authoritarianism.

    • Yes, I quite agree. Just the other day we posted about what Germany is doing. Facebook has been the de facto arm of the German government for quite some time.

      In this country, it’s more like FB works for the Muslim Brotherhood. But the net effect is the same.

  7. I was using it up until the “Arab Spring” then I made a cautionary remark, and people began to unfriend me, and it went downhill from there. Morsi went to jail, but I still have not heard from any of the old gang. It’s a tool, with a specific purpose as I see it. I earnestly believe that people need to start forging relationships that are not electronically based, making conscious efforts to meet in person, and develop strategies to live that way.

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