Published: July 13, 2021
Texas Supreme Court Justice James Blacklock issued a ruling on June 25th mandating Facebook to face lawsuits filed by three women who were alleged victims of coercive acts of abuse and sex trafficking via Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook quickly dismissed the claims under section 230 of the U.S. Communications Decency Act, stating that websites are not accountable for whatever users post online.
However, the judge is not accepting the argument, stating that Section 230 does not cover one’s intentional participation in any form of human trafficking, such as the allegation mentioned above.
Thus, he returned the case for further proceedings in the district court. He further added that Section 230 might be needing an overhaul now as it may already be outdated.
In the said lawsuit, three unnamed women accused Facebook of allowing stalkings, exploitations, recruiting, grooming, and extorting children to enter into sex trades due to the lack of the platform’s restrictions, therefore benefiting from such sex trafficking acts.
One of them claims that she was recruited on Facebook to do modeling jobs when she was 15 years old. She further claims that she was eventually raped, beaten, and forced into prostitution.
The other two women were apparently contacted through Instagram during their teens and were groomed and forced to become sex workers.
Judge Blacklock states that Facebook may be held accountable under Texas state code Chapter 98 if these three women can prove that Facebook gained benefits as a participant in this sex trafficking venture.
A Facebook spokesperson announced that the company is “currently reviewing the decision and considering potential next steps.”
He further stated that sex trafficking is despicable and is, therefore, not allowed on Facebook. The three women’s lawyers commend the company for the statement and further noting Facebook’s enthusiasm to help fight against the spread of such content and its perpetrators.
Blacklock also insinuates that this may be an opportunity for social media platforms to improve their policies regarding their users’ posts using advanced technologies.