April 5, 2011
In our earlier post, Facebook was being sued because of an allegedly wrongful removal of a page.
Now, however, it is being sued for failing to remove a page quickly enough.
The page in question was the “Third Palestinian Intifada.”
While the term “intifada” (Arabic for “shaking off,” usually translated as “resistance”) has typically connoted violence, the page itself was started to encourage peaceful protests. Eventually, however, the page attracted some undesirables posting comments calling for violence, and it was at this point that Facebook removed the page.
Nevertheless, this wasn’t fast enough for Larry Klayman, the pro se plaintiff.
The complaint states that Facebook and founder Mark Zuckerberg both assaulted Klayman and negligently damaged him.
How did they damage him?
By failing to remove the page quickly enough, they increased the viewership of the page and thus encouraged more people to take violent actions against Israel and Jews worldwide.
According to the complaint, because Klayman is both a Jew and a public figure that regularly speaks in support of Israel, he claims he has been targeted and fears for his safety.
The document, however, seems like a joke.
It cites the film The Social Network as evidence, wanders off to irrelevant or legally incorrect tangents, and devotes significant time to discussing the accomplishments, talents, and influence of the plaintiff.
However, as TechCrunch points out in its discussion of the same suit, Klayman probably isn’t joking and is a habitual litigator.
So assuming this complaint is serious, how does it fare legally?
Unsurprisingly, not well.
Neither of its claims assert a prima facie case.
The assault claim fails because, with assault being an intentional tort, Facebook didn’t form the intent to cause apprehension of imminent harm to Klayman or anyone else.
The negligence claim fails because Facebook does not owe a generalized duty of care to protect all subscribers of Facebook, as the complaint claims.
Plus, while the complaint does not state how Klayman has actually been damaged by Facebook’s actions, it nonetheless asks for $1 billion in damages.
You also might wonder why Mark Zuckerberg, who is also Jewish, would deliberately leave the page up to encourage threats to Jews, as the complaint states.
According to Klayman, Facebook and “Golman Sachs” [sic] conspired to make money from leaving the page up.
As fantastical as the complaint is, there still appears to be the chance that Klayman believes what he’s saying, rather than just using it as an opportunity to score easy publicity.
And even if the claim is disingenuous, it highlights an important point.
As Facebook becomes more and more pervasive in all aspects of life, people also increasingly expect that Facebook provide them with rights reminiscent of those provided in a constitution.
While it is currently outlandish to expect a private entity to ensure rights to those opting to use its services, Facebook is entering uncharted waters.
Such a thing may not be so strange in the future.
Read more on the matter at TechCrunch’s page here.