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Facebook ordered to reinstate Page of controversial Italian political group

The court ruled that Facebook "excluded or extremely limited it from the Italian political debate."
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Whether European countries are pushing for more free speech or pushing back against US tech giants – that’s often difficult to tell. Or they could be doing both.

Take, for example, the ruling of a court in Rome that said had no legal grounds to delete the account of CasaPound, formerly a party, now a political movement that is espousing pro-fascist views. Facebook suspended CasaPound’s Facebook and accounts for hate speech in early September.

The Guardian reports that in addition to reinstating the account that had nearly a quarter of a million followers, the court said Facebook must pay CasaPound 800 euro for each day the account had been suspended, plus 15,000 in legal costs.

The movement is not represented in either the Italian or the European parliament and started out as a drinking club named after US poet Ezra Pound. But regardless of how fringe it may be politically, and regardless of the unsavory ideological inspiration that it takes from Italy’s WW2-era regime led by Mussolini – CasaPound, specifically its lawsuit, is now playing a role regarding a host of bigger issues.

One is the position and significance that Facebook has in society – the court said that by removing CasaPound from the platform, the giant “excluded or extremely limited it from the Italian political debate.”

Another is the jurisdiction of nation-states over online platforms that are global by definition. Facebook has lately been hit by a number of orders based on local law, notably in Singapore, to which the giant bowed.

Similar legal cases have cropped in Europe before, too. In May, a non-profit, the Civil Society Drug Policy Initiative (SIN)- whose purpose is to reduce harm from drug use – sued Facebook in Poland for banning its pages without providing any explanation. The lawsuit’s goal was to make sure massive social platforms would have to leave content that is legal up, and stop removing accounts, posts, and pages that may be unpalatable to them but are otherwise lawful.

In July, a court adopted a temporary measure ordering Facebook to stop arbitrarily removing SIN’s pages.

Facebook shortly after argued against the case on a technicality – the best it could come up with is that its lawyers “don’t speak Polish,” the language of the lawsuit.

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