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Lawsuit Challenges Meta's Control Over Facebook Feeds

Lawsuit questions users' control over Facebook feeds. Amherst professor files lawsuit against Meta Platforms. Tool called Unfollow Everything 2.0 aims to give users more control.

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University filed the lawsuit on behalf of an Amherst professor who wants to release a tool called Unfollow Everything 2.0. This browser extension would allow Facebook users to unfollow friends, groups, and pages, effectively emptying their newsfeed. The idea behind the tool is that without the constant stream of content, users might spend less time on the platform. However, it is expected that Meta will strongly oppose this idea.

A similar tool called Unfollow Everything was previously released by a U.K. developer named Louis Barclay. However, Barclay took it down in 2021 after receiving a cease-and-desist letter and a lifetime ban from Meta, which was then known as Facebook Inc.

The Amherst professor, Ethan Zuckerman, hopes that by filing this lawsuit, he can beat Meta to the legal punch and avoid being sued by the social media giant over the browser extension. Zuckerman believes that users currently have very little control over how they use social media networks, unlike other aspects of the internet where users have more freedom to choose different clients or software.

The lawsuit is centered around a provision of Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which is typically used to protect internet companies from liability for content posted on their platforms. However, a separate clause in the act provides immunity to software developers who create tools that filter or disallow objectionable content. The lawsuit seeks to determine whether users' news feeds can be considered objectionable material that they should have the right to filter out.

Zuckerman sees this lawsuit as an opportunity to establish the right for users to have more control over their social media experience. He believes that if successful, it could lead to new research and development in creating tools that make social networks work better for users.

While Facebook does offer a manual unfollow option, it can be time-consuming and cumbersome, especially for users with a large number of friends, groups, and businesses they follow. Zuckerman also plans to study how turning off the news feed affects users' experience on Facebook, but participation in the study would be voluntary.

Ramya Krishnan, a senior staff attorney at the Knight Institute, emphasises that users have the right to control their experience on social media platforms and should be able to block content they find harmful. The same statute that protects Meta from liability for user speech should also grant users the right to decide what they see on the platform.

  • Lawsuit questions users' control over Facebook feeds

  • Amherst professor files lawsuit against Meta Platforms

  • Tool called Unfollow Everything 2.0 aims to give users more control

Source: AP NEWS

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