When is it OK to sue for damages over Facebook?
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that it is legal to sue companies for damages if the social network’s actions violate the rights of users.
Facebook is asking the justices to consider whether the company’s actions infringe on the First Amendment.
But what does the First Amendement say about civil rights?
The First Amendment protects the rights and freedoms of citizens, but it does not require them to act in ways that they would not normally take.
“The First amendment does not bar the government from regulating the speech of citizens or of noncitizens alike,” the Supreme Court explained in its decision.
“Its prohibition on the government interfering with the free exercise of speech does not apply to speech by noncitizens of the United States.”
If Facebook is sued for violating the First, the company would need to prove that it was acting to advance its business interests and that its actions were not intended to discriminate or cause harassment.
If it can’t show this, the court could take it to the Supreme Courts.
“If Facebook were to be sued under the First and Fourteenth Amendments for discriminating against the First amendment-protected rights of individuals in violation of the First,” the justices wrote, “the plaintiffs’ suit would fail because it lacks standing to sue on First Amendment grounds.”
The court said that, for example, a person could sue for defamation for posting a comment about a person who has died, but could not sue Facebook for not allowing users to see the comment.