The social media giant Facebook is facing a lawsuit by a Connecticut law school student concerning the deletion of his posts that name the alleged “Ukraine whistleblower.”
The law student Cameron Atkinson said that he wanted to know if the social media giant was deliberately blocking posts that mentioned the identity of the whistleblower as ascribed by the conservative media outlets.
According to Bloomberg Law, Atkinson stated that he made three Facebook posts, in which the first post called the “whistle-blower” a hero, while the second post called him a “dirty rat,” and the final post contained “conflicting thoughts” about disclosing the identity publicly. All the three posts were deleted within hours after posting.
While it's one of the worst-kept secrets in recent memory, the whistleblower's identity has formally been kept a secret as the congressional investigators and mainstream media organizations are pushing the opinion that the individual's safety would otherwise be comprised, even though there is no law against the media publishing the name. Facebook shares the same opinion as the company said:
“Any mention of the potential whistle-blower's name violates our coordinating harm policy, which prohibits content ‘outing of a witness, informant, or activist. We are removing any and all mentions of the potential whistle-blower's name and will revisit this decision should their name be widely published in the media or used by public figures in debate.”
Atkinson said that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was known for harboring “political ambitions” and his blatant censorship of the right. He further stated that the censorship in the case concerning his matter “is intentional and is inspired by ill-will, malice, and a desire to deflect attention from himself and Facebook's practice of surreptitiously mining data for profit from consumers who believe they are receiving a free service devoted primarily to their welfare.”
As of now, the whistleblower's attorneys have asserted that the person's original identity must not be made public. Moreover, as public officials have taken over the testimony by the whistleblower, the attorneys argue that it is no longer necessary to make the identity public.
However, even those who are usually favorable to pushing Facebook to end censorship of conservatives have poked holes in the lawsuit. An attorney specializing in tech-related issues and who is often sympathetic to issues of conservative censorship, Preston Byrne, called the lawsuit “dumb”, saying that the “claimant manufactured the claim and argues that Section 230 CDA makes social media companies trustees of constructive public trusts ergo state actors for First Amend.(ment) purposes. It should never have been brought.”
Atkinson v Facebook is a dumb lawsuit.
Claimant manufactured the claim and argues that Section 230 CDA makes social media companies trustees of constructive public trusts ergo state actors for First Amend. purposes.
It should never have been brought.https://t.co/XNHFndaRPl
— Preston Byrne (@prestonjbyrne) November 13, 2019
It is to be noted that Facebook has been facing difficulties juggling between fostering free expression and limiting harmful speech, but yesterday a conservative news outlet who was pushing against Facebook for not being able to report on the whistleblower, had their entire network deleted by Facebook for what they believe to be censorship related to the whistleblower saga.