Facebook Defeats Jawboning Lawsuit Over COVID Misinformation Removal–Rogalinski v. Meta

Rogalinski made several posts about COVID. Facebook added “missing context” labels to two of them and removed another one. Rogalinski claims that Facebook “censored” him on behalf of the government, so he tries a standard jawboning lawsuit. He gets the same outcome as all the rest.

In Hart v. Facebook, the court dismissed a very similar case…

on at least four related but essentially independent grounds: (1) Facebook much more plausibly was enforcing its own misinformation policy; (2) the government’s statements were phrased only as vague recommendations; (3) the government’s supplying of information to Facebook did not plausibly suggest involvement in Facebook’s decisions; and (4) there was no indication of government involvement in action specifically toward Hart

Rogalinski’s attempts to get around this precedent fall flat. Rogalinski admits that any government statements were “clearly suggestions,” not edicts. Facebook took action against Rogalinski’s content before the pivotal statements from Psaki. This reinforces that Facebook may have acted on its own volition. There’s no allegation that the government targeted Rogalinski personally. And even if the government had provided information about Rogalinski to Facebook, “the government can work with a private entity without converting that entity’s later decisions into state action.” [Cite to O’Handley.] Case dismissed.

For a deeper dive on this genre of cases, see Online Account Terminations/Content Removals and the Benefits of Internet Services Enforcing Their House Rules.

Case Citation: Rogalinski v. Meta Platforms, Inc., 3:22-cv-02482-CRB (N.D. Cal. Aug. 9, 2022).

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