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Polish drug treatment group is suing Facebook for free speech violations after they suspended its page

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Give Facebook a break at long last – somewhere in the world. Or indeed, don’t.

Namely, the planet’s most powerful and most lucrative social media platform has been under constant scrutiny and pressure for a while now from many corners – and now a group in Poland, arguing in favor of free speech, has piled on.

Poland’s Civil Society Drug Policy Initiative – whose acronym, in English, is worth its weight in gold, as it reads, “SIN” – is suing Facebook before a local court in this European Union (EU) member-state, accusing the US tech giant of breaching local legislation granting free speech to individuals and organizations, TechCrunch is reporting.

According to the article, Facebook’s latest legal predicament stems from its efforts to “shut down harmful and malicious content on its platform.” But could it be that same practice that most critics and free speech advocates routinely describe as policing legitimate speech, and then deliberately or accidentally overreaching in the process?

In its complaint, the Polish organization said it was unfairly targeted by Facebook removing a number of its pages from the platform, and also from its image sharing service Instagram.

The Civil Society Drug Policy Initiative now wants these pages to be unbanned – and also, for Facebook to cop to making a mistake – and apologize for it.

According to TechCrunch, the Polish organization is geared towards “harm reduction” among drug users – i.e., offering advice on how to minimize damage from substance abuse, and educating the public on how drugs can be tested, and what their effect can be. In order to do this, the group goes where it thinks its outreach effort might be most effective: nightclubs, music festivals, and other venues where visitors are likely to be engaging in the use of “recreational drugs.”

And while the organization said its approach was supported by the UN, the EU, the Red Cross, and others – clearly, Facebook is not among these global actors.

The case seems likely to boil down, once again, to a major tech company using machine learning, or indeed, just plain old algorithms – and proving that this technology was not quite good enough to live up to the intricacies of the content it is supposed to correctly understand, and then fairly police.

Or, TechCrunch said – “it may be that Facebook regarded SIN as taking a particular approach on a controversial subject – the best way to cope with illegal drug use – which would have run afoul of its guidelines.”

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