Facebook, in court filings defending itself from a lawsuit filed by activist and congressional candidate Laura Loomer, has cited its first amendment rights as a “publisher,” contradicting public claims by the company that its social media service is a platform.
The distinction between publisher and platform is central to the legal protections enjoyed by big tech companies, and is frequently cited by Republican lawmakers in their criticism of Silicon Valley’s political bias.
Under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, tech platforms have immunity from lawsuits arising out of their decisions to host (or not to to host) user-generated content. Unlike publishers, which are liable if their writers defame someone, a tech platform is not held liable for content created by its users.
Yet Facebook appears to be jettisoning this categorization in its court filings, saying it has a First Amendment right as a publisher not to carry Loomer’s content.