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Court Orders Facebook To Comply With Subpoena For Data On All Users That Broke “Covid-19 Misinformation” Rules

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The District of Columbia (DC) Court of Appeals has rejected Meta’s appeal to quash a sweeping subpoena that demanded it hand over “documents sufficient to identify all Facebook groups, pages, and accounts that have violated Facebook’s COVID-19 misinformation policy with respect to content concerning vaccines” to the DC government.

Millions of users, many of whom made truthful statements that challenged the government’s Covid narrative, are likely to be swept up in this government data grab due to the scope of Facebook’s “Covid-19 misinformation” rules and the number of users that were impacted by them.

Facebook’s Covid-19 misinformation rules prohibited many truthful statements during the pandemic. For example, at one point claiming that “vaccines are not effective at preventing the disease they are meant to protect against” was banned — an assertion that health officials have now reluctantly admitted is true.

Even Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has acknowledged that Facebook censored truthful information.

And millions of people were impacted by these far-reaching censorship rules. In some quarters, Facebook censored over 100 million posts for violating these rules. Some of the groups Facebook took down under these rules also had hundreds of thousands of users.

Meta had challenged the subpoena on free speech and privacy grounds, arguing that it violated the First Amendment and that a warrant was required to compel disclosure of the requested data.

Specifically, Meta argued that the subpoena violated Meta’s own First Amendment rights by “prob[ing] and penaliz[ing]” its ability to exercise editorial control over content on its platform and also violated Meta users’ First Amendment rights because it would deter them from engaging in future online discussions of controversial topics.

Additionally, Meta cited the warrant requirements in the Stored Communications Act (SCA) — a law that sought to provide Fourth Amendment-like privacy protections by statute to communications held by third party service providers.

However, the DC appeals court rejected Meta’s arguments.

The court stated that Meta had not shown the subpoena will result in its free speech or associational rights being chilled. Additionally, it said Meta users’ First Amendment rights wouldn’t be chilled because “the users who made those posts have already openly associated themselves with their espoused views by publicly posting them to Facebook.”

The court also insisted that the warrant requirement in the SCA does not apply to public posts and that the subpoena “does not require Meta to ‘unmask’ any anonymous Users.”

Furthermore, the court characterized this mass request for user data as “reasonably relevant” to the DC’s investigation and said the subpoena is “narrowly tailored to the government’s asserted interest.”

We obtained a copy of the opinion for you here.

Not only does the subpoena require Facebook to hand over the data of users that were banned for sharing dissenting opinions on Covid vaccines but the Covid-19 misinformation policy the subpoena centered around is starting to be rolled back by Meta.

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

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