Facebook Dodges Antitrust Suit – But Faces Sex Trafficking Case
Okay, first the good news – for Facebook at least.
A federal judge tossed out a number of antitrust suits from 46 different states, along with a a Federal Trade Commission complaint of “illegal monopolisation” and a “years-long course of anticompetitive conduct.”
After Washington DC federal judge James E. Boasberg dismissed these suits, Facebook’s valuation flew over US$1 trillion for the first time, with shares nudging 5 per cent at the close of trading yesterday.
However, a Texas court has ruled that Facebook may be held accountable for “knowingly benefitting from sex traffickers” who use the social network to recruit its victims.
Three separate women are claiming they were forced into prostitution after being groomed on Facebook, saying the company provides “an unrestricted platform to stalk, exploit, recruit, groom, and extort children into the sex trade.”
Texas Supreme Court Justice James Blacklock ruled Friday they will be allowed to go forward with a suit against Facebook.
Facebook had put forward section 230 of the U.S. Communications Decency Act, which indemnifies websites for the posts of its users – a defence that Blacklock swatted down.
“We do not understand section 230 to ‘create a lawless no-man’s-land on the Internet’ in which states are powerless to impose liability on websites that knowingly or intentionally participate in the evil of online human trafficking,” he wrote.
“The statutory claim for knowingly or intentionally benefiting from participation in a human-trafficking venture is not barred by section 230 and may proceed to further litigation,” he wrote.
A spokesperson for Facebook told the New York Post that: “Sex trafficking is abhorrent and not allowed on Facebook.
“We will continue our fight against the spread of this content and the predators who engage in it.”