Two anti-Muslim advocacy groups sued Attorney General Loretta Lynch in July for not combating tech companies’ censorship of its content, and now the Department of Justice (DoJ) is asking them to throw out the case.
The American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and Jihad Watch filed a civil complaint claiming that they are being treated unfairly and unlawfully by Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube and that the government is enabling the tech giants.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act rules that “online intermediaries that host or republish speech are protected against a range of laws that might otherwise be used to hold them legally responsible for what others say and do,” according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Social media companies are not held liable for the content posted by users and are seemingly immune from most related lawsuits.
The plaintiffs contend that this law doesn’t mean Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others are allowed to “engage in government-sanctioned discrimination and the suppression of free speech,” according to the lawsuit. The anti-Muslim groups assert that these companies are violating First Amendment rights and that the government should be compelled to do something about it.
The DoJ said this lawsuit is frivolous and misguided.
Lynch claims that the anti-Muslim groups are evidently upset with the private corporations.
“Instead of suing the company responsible for running a particular social-media platform” the plaintiffs are suing the government for allegedly “facilitating private censorship and that this facilitation violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution,” the DoJ’s motion to dismiss reads.
The suit should be filed against the “private third parties, whom the United States does not control and whose actions it cannot predict,” the DoJ argues.
Soon after the first suit, co-founder of AFDI Pamela Geller announced that she is also suing Facebook.
Geller and fellow co-founder Robert Spencer, who also created Jihad Watch, were banned from entering the U.K. because for their views on Islam.