Facebook is being sued for calling links to Israeli site ‘unsafe’.
Mizbala is an Israeli marketing agency that runs its own news site and frequently comments on issues related to internet advertising and marketing. The agency has been critical of Facebook, commenting on their aggressive blocking of users and content. This might not be surprising, considering the huge amount of content on Facebook, and that it is being filtered by algorithms and low-level human reviewers. In such circumstances, mistakes are bound to happen, and Mizbala has been happily reporting on them.
The agency recently noted how content by a comedian had been banned for crediting a photographer named Guy Kushi. The Hebrew word “kushi” is a derogative term for blacks. In a separate incident, a Big Brother participant was blocked for 30 days after posting a video clip in which he criticized the fact that he had been blocked previously for using “banned words” in old posts.
After writing a few such stories however, Mizbala soon became the victim of Facebook’s blocking as well. Previously posted links to Mizbala were removed from Facebook, and anyone attempting to link their articles was given a message telling the user that they were linking unsafe content. In other instances, it told users that the links might be spam.
In response, Mizbala has decided to sue Facebook, arguing that messages associated with the block are defamatory and offer a “false description” of Mizbala. The question then arises whether this is simply another case of mistaken or poor filtering, or if Facebook has targeted Mizbala due to their criticism. In the United States, similar cases would likely fail due to section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), which nearly a decade ago protected Kaspersky antivirus from calling some adware ‘spyware’. Should the lawsuit succeed however, Mizbala could spark other parties to make similar claims against social media sites.