Facebook, Zuckerberg sued for $1 billion

Facebook, Zuckerberg sued for $1 billion

Summary: Larry Klayman is suing Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg for $1 billion because the social network did not remove the Facebook Page titled "Third Palestinian Intifada" quickly enough.

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Larry Klayman, the founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, and a US Senate candidate in 2004, has filed a lawsuit against Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg for their role in furthering a "radical" Facebook Page called "Third Palestinian Intifada," which openly advocated another uprising against the citizens of Israel. The complaint reserves the right to be amended into a class action suit and prays for compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $1 billion.

It's April 1st and yet I saw this story last night. I thought it might be an early April Fools' joke until I found the 7-page complaint (PDF) today. It alleges assault and negligence, including willful and wanton conduct, gross negligence and recklessness on the part of the Defendants, because Klayman's life, as well as other similarly situated Jews who are prominent public figures and otherwise, have had their lives put at risk.

As a quick refresher, Facebook originally said it would not remove the Page but would monitor it instead. The company later pulled the Page after discussions degraded into violence and hatred.

While the Page was pulled eventually, Klayman believes it was not done quickly enough. He argues that the damage has already been done and that other copycat Pages will start to become popular. As I've already said earlier, this does not appear to be happening: the original Page was Liked by more than 350,000 users, while the new Pages don't even have 350.

Nevertheless, the complaint alleges that the initial refusal to take down the Page was an effort by Facebook and Zuckerberg to increase the social network's net worth based on viewership and use. It points to the fact that the social network has recently played a big role in the Middle East (such as in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya) and has thus "profited handsomely" from the turmoil.

Klayman has a history of pursuing court cases and other activities that involve "radical Palestinians." He is also known to be a strong supporter of Israel, and has been called a "Zionist" publicly by "radical Palestinians and other such Arabic interests." He thus believes he may be a target by the more violent users who contributed to the Third Palestinian Intifada discussion on Facebook. Here's his argument:

While Facebook has accomplished a lot of good, it can, as in this instance, be used for nefarious and evil purposes. Defendants Zuckerberg's and Facebook's callous and greedy actions in not taking down the page, but willfully allowing it to stay up for many days, has caused huge damage, for which they must be held accountable, so as to prevent this from ever happening again. They must be not only enjoined but also hit in their purse, which is where they understand matters best. Apparently, the ethically compromised Zuckerberg has no conscience or sense of right or wrong, as depicted recently in the award winning film "Social Network."

Facebook unsurprisingly disagrees. "While we haven't been served with a complaint, we believe the case is without merit and we will fight it vigorously," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. Here's what the company has to say about the source of all this commotion:

The Page, The Third Palestinian Intifada, began as a call for peaceful protest, even though it used a term that has been associated with violence in the past. In addition, the administrators initially removed comments that promoted violence. However, after the publicity of the Page, more comments deteriorated to direct calls for violence. Eventually, the administrators also participated in these calls. After administrators of the page received repeated warnings about posts that violated our policies, we removed the Page. We continue to believe that people on Facebook should be able to express their opinions, and we don’t typically take down content that speaks out against countries, religions, political entities, or ideas. However, we monitor Pages that are reported to us and when they degrade to direct calls for violence or expressions of hate--as occurred in this case--we have and will continue to take them down.

For more background on this story, please refer to my two previous articles:

Topic: Social Enterprise

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

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  • RE: Facebook, Zuckerberg sued for $1 billion

    Hopefully this garbage gets thrown out. As much as I hate Facebook, anyone can put anything they want on the internet, period.
    Droid101
    • RE: Facebook, Zuckerberg sued for $1 billion

      @Droid101 Sorry, but if it puts people in Harm's Way, it's against the law. I say this not as a fan of Jews, Zuckerberg, Facebook or radical Palestinians.
      palavering
      • RE: Facebook, Zuckerberg sued for $1 billion

        @palavering
        Facebook is not complicit in the violence in the middle east. Freedom of Speech should be upheld in this case.

        This sets a dangerous precedent in that if someone puts something I disagree with on Facebook, if I then harm that person, Facebook is responsible. Terrible. Let freedom ring for goodness sake. Censorship is evil.
        hoaxoner
      • Freedom of speech must be responsible

        Too many laws in the US make it very hard to have real freedom.

        I agree that hatred no matter who its targeted against should be condemned. But freedom of speech just as important, otherwise we would no be any different than any other dictatorship.

        Those inciting into violence directly should be held responsible as they are the ones who are pushing for it. Facebook should be mildly accountable for not putting a lid on violence, specially when they were warned. Greed does have its consequence. But 1 Billion does not fit the issue. That just goes against freedom of speech.

        Some countries now have laws that forbid anyone from posting anything on line. In these countries, elected officials behave no different than dictatorships or fascist states.

        Users should have the ability to disagree and have their opinions heard. But those who do promote violence should be held accountable.

        Social sites should work with government to insure that when users who promote this behavior.
        Uralbas
      • Message has been deleted.

        nomorebs
      • RE: Facebook, Zuckerberg sued for $1 billion

        @palavering: "Jews" is not the right word here. It's only the "Zionist Jews" the ones behind this lawsuit.
        nomorebs
      • RE: Facebook, Zuckerberg sued for $1 billion

        @palavering, sorry, but you're just wrong. As much as I disagree with the message, this is still protected by the first amendment. There is no law that says you have the right to not be offended.

        If the page creators actually committed a violent act, then by all means try them and convict them. But to sue Facebook and Zuckerberg is just stupid. People who bring these types of lawsuits should be fined 10% of what they are asking for if the lawsuit is baseless.
        endermc12
      • RE: Facebook, Zuckerberg sued for $1 billion

        @hoaxoner

        I agree. To hold Facebook responsible for this would be to put a chill on Free Speech. Basically, you should be allowed to put anything on the internet, no matter how controversial, unless it is supporting criminal acts or encouraging people to do criminal acts.

        We already have pedosexual pages being taken down for various bogus reason that only support changing the laws and taking a fresh look at this controversial subject.

        If we go any further, we will get to the point where anything that is controversial cannot be spoken about.
        Lerianis10
      • RE: Facebook, Zuckerberg sued for $1 billion

        @palavering

        It's not against US law or seditious to speak out against a foreign power, ever. It's only potentially risky if you're encouraging violence against individuals. By the same token, we need to throw Westboro baptist church in federal prison, they got 8 people killed. Facebook did not incite violence, you'll note they pulled the page when radical [x] and violence became its centerpiece. There is no fault here on the part of facebook. Your disclaimer is uneccessary, you're wrong either way.

        @nomorebs

        Not surprising you've been flagged. Too many people nowadays think Israel can do no wrong and even so much as referring to their cultural group/religion (which they will use to their advantage by playing the race card whenever it's convenient) gets you censored. Their tiny voting bloc holds way too much power in the US because they're self-centered and only vote on one issue, and the far right wing of our political spectrum simply falls in line. No presidential candidate dares speak out against Israel in any way as they'll lose Florida and New York, the same reason we will never stop the embargo on Cuba. I'm really tired of having to take the blame for Israel's concentration camps and abusive behavior.
        Ternarybit
      • RE: Facebook, Zuckerberg sued for $1 billion

        @palavering
        Its not putting people in harms way. Its a webpage. I say this as someone who thiks FB is completely stupid....
        12312332123
      • RE: Facebook, Zuckerberg sued for $1 billion

        Facebook will remove any offensive pages, but monitoring them all is an endless task, that is why members are encouraged to complain about pages such as this. When complaints are received, Then Facebook can monitor them and take appropriate action.
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        Amanda123456
      • RE: Facebook, Zuckerberg sued for $1 billion

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        Amanda123456
      • RE: Facebook, Zuckerberg sued for $1 billion

        @palavering
        There is some very good insight here that I agree with very much.
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        epark732
    • RE: Facebook, Zuckerberg sued for $1 billion

      @Droid101
      Liberals would argue this as free speech and yet they would censor the preacher from Florida burning the Koran. Ignorances abound as long as politics on the internet support your viewpoints.
      partman1969@...
    • RE: Facebook, Zuckerberg sued for $1 billion

      @Droid101 Agreed.. This seems pretty frivolous. Interested to see how it plays out.
      <a href="http://www.barskareviews.com/barska-binoculars">barska binoculars</a>
      krtinberg
  • Message has been deleted.

    Spikey_Mike
    • RE: Facebook, Zuckerberg sued for $1 billion

      @Spikey_Mike
      What are you talking about? He just want the money. He don't care about the palestenian. What harm can facebook get by loosing 1 billion?
      asdacap
      • It's not about money

        @asdacap
        It's about setting up the soapbox for his next political campaign. We will hear about this specific issue again. Count on it
        use_what_works_4_U
    • Message has been deleted.

      nami85
      • RE: Facebook, Zuckerberg sued for $1 billion

        @nami85

        Bad grammar and spelling, but once deciphered I have to agree with most of the points made.

        Israel is:

        1. Putting settlements on land that by U.N. proclamation and resolution doesn't belong to them.
        2. Carrying out a pattern of harassment and perhaps genocide against the Palestinian people.

        Now, the Palestinians are launching rockets at Israel every so often (or are they? It could be a fringe group), but that doesn't justify the stuff the Israelis are doing and is coming from the Israelis refusing to negotiate.
        Lerianis10