Subscribe for premier reporting on free speech, privacy, Big Tech, media gatekeepers, and individual liberty online.

Belgian Court Strikes Back: Meta Ordered to Pay for Shadowbanning Politician

If you’re tired of censorship and surveillance, subscribe to Reclaim The Net.

In a first legal decision of its kind, a court in Belgium has ordered Meta to pay damages to a member of the European Parliament (MEP) from that country for unfairly shadowbanning him.

Meta will have to pay an equivalent of just over $30,000 to Tom Vandendriessche, from the conservative Vlaams Belang party (which is treated by opponents as “populist and nationalist”).

It isn’t hard to understand why Facebook (Meta) would target this politician, and Vandendriessche certainly wasn’t the first or last to be subjected to this particular form of censorship; however, the ruling is noteworthy for several reasons.

One is that a court (a court of appeals in this case) has officially exposed Meta as resorting to shadowbanning, a measure the tech giant does not mention in its terms of service and denies doing. Reports about the ruling also note that both liberal social platforms and media in the past denied that the practice exists, branding claims to the contrary as “conspiracy theories.”

But the Twitter Files put an end to that – these accusations turned out to be close to a conspiracy theory themselves, aimed at discrediting political and ideological opponents. The Twitter Files showed that shadowbanning is very much so real, rather than imagined by “right-wingers.”

Facebook’s own “ruling” against Vandendriessche goes back to early 2021, when the MEP was, unbeknownst to him (such is the nature of shadowbanning) “found guilty” of posting “hateful” content. This resulted in his Facebook posts getting downranked, i.e., their visibility and reach dramatically reduced.

However, Vandendriessche only found out a while later that his content was considered to be “hate speech” – when Facebook had to disclose that in order to block his advertising account.

The Belgian court, however, found no proof that the accusation was true, and handed down the decision that allowed Vandendriessche to declare, in a post on X, “first victory against Big Tech.”

“I hope this ruling makes it clear to Facebook that they can no longer censor me, together with many citizens, without consequences,” Vandendriessche is quoted as saying in his party’s press release following the ruling.

The statement also noted that it was nigh on impossible to sue one of the tech giants, because those who do “don’t enter the fight on a level playing field.”

If you’re tired of censorship and surveillance, subscribe to Reclaim The Net.

Read more

Join the pushback against online censorship, cancel culture, and surveillance.

Already a member? Login.