Facebook’s chief operating officer recently dismissed as “crazy” CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s claim that the company never broke the law.
Zuckerberg cited when he wrote, in May 2017, on the Facebook Today blog, “If we’ve broken the law, we will fix it and we will pay for it, so that every time a person uses Facebook, they are getting something that is better.”
Now, however, Facebook has revealed in a new court filing that it is employing tactics that certainly appear to break the law. And as InformationWeek reports, at least one of the tactics used to keep banned accounts alive.
The Verge first reported on the recent court filing made by the company in a case brought by a man from Belize who alleged that the company threatened to bring down his house of worship.
According to his attorney, Kevin Cunningham, Facebook forced Usen Christian to pay $10,000 in bribes to an employee in Belize if he could not recall, by court order, details from Facebook pages being deleted from Facebook.
According to Cunningham, Facebook still continues to maintain that the bribes did not occur and so it is unlikely they are worthy of pursuing in court.
“This is a classic bait and switch that should not be tolerated,” Cunningham told InformationWeek. “I do not know if it is fraud, a con, or what it is, but it shouldn’t be accepted,”
Christian’s Facebook account was blocked for comments posted by his son to the social media platform in 2017, which accused Facebook of discriminating against Haitians. Facebook reportedly accused the Christian family of being “potentially violent in nature” for the comments.
A lawsuit filed by Usen Christian seeking to free Facebook from legal responsibility was dismissed on September 12.
However, the man is now pursuing Facebook’s use of the targeted “cheat” lists and said “he hopes it will reveal how the social media giant uses lies to bilk unsuspecting consumers.”
Facebook provides a detailed review of its business practices in the form of 10-Ks, or annual reports, which detail the company’s methods and principles used to allocate advertising dollars, as well as provide updates on politics and regulation on the social media giant.
One page on the second page in the corporate-ethics section of the company’s corporate-ethics section reads: “It is our practice not to engage in or encourage any unlawful activity that infringes the rights of others or harms society.”
For more information on Facebook check out InformationWeek’s Q&A: “Did Facebook Wrongly Confiscate…” and read about whether it is aware that Facebook may be violating freedom of speech laws.
In a U.S. Federal Trade Commission filing related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal in March 2018, Zuckerberg said the company does not work with companies that target suspected extremists and seeks to help educate users about hateful speech or activities. He also said Facebook doesn’t rely on third-party data collection and uses its own AI to weed out and identify fake accounts.
It doesn’t speak about bribery. So I do not know if it is fraud, a con, or what it is, but it shouldn’t be accepted. — Kevin Cunningham, attorney
But publishing court documents is still a veritable badge of honour among tech companies, and Facebook filed a pre-emptive strike against Christian’s lawsuit after his attempt to have a search warrant approved.
“The plaintiff’s violations of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities do not constitute a discovery request in light of the relevant exemptions, which Facebook disputes,” the court filing said.
A judge is expected to rule on the issue on December 19.
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