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: