A lawyer based in San Francisco’s Bay Area has sued Facebook for suspending his account over hate speech allegations. According to Dan Balsam, what Facebook is flagging as hate speech is political speech.
Eighteen years ago, in 2002, Dan Balsam was a marketer. Embroiled by receiving too many spam emails, he decided to go back to school and become a lawyer. He has since been making a living suing companies who send him spam mails. Balsam has sued a wide range of companies, many of which are happy to settle than spend money fighting a lawsuit.
The decision to sue Facebook came after his account was suspended for the fifth time. According to CBSLocal, the post that might have gotten his account suspended read, “I don’t know why conservatives are making such a big deal about wearing masks in public. It’s not like it bothered them before.” The post was accompanied by a photo of Ku Klux Klan members wearing their hoods.
“What it really comes down to is political speech. There’s a right to political speech, and Facebook is censoring it,” Balsam told KPIX.
In this lawsuit against Facebook (we obtained a copy for you here) Balsam claims the social platform’s hate speech algorithms are faulty. As a result, the flagging of posts is arbitrary and inconsistent. He told KPIX that he is not looking for a monetary settlement. He simply wants Facebook to restore his account and to make sure they improve their flagging system so that what happened to him does not happen to others. Additionally, he wants Facebook to have people available on the phone to deal with account suspension and content flagging appeals. “If this is happening to me, it’s probably happening to other people. I want them to fix their algorithms. I’m looking for big, systemic change on how Facebook operates right now,” Balsam said.
Balsom shows screenshots of messages he received when is account has been locked: