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Is Facebook a Publisher or a Platform? 

This is terribly interesting to me from a legal stand point. As you may be aware Facebook’s creator and founder has been at Congress talking about the platform and the perceived issues. I personally don’t have issues with it. Even though a video I recently posted was removed, and I disagreed with its removal, I wasn’t terribly upset about it. As a matter of fact I was pretty pleased. This page is pretty small (for now) and that video had gone viral. This little old site reached exponentially more people than follow it. Ben Shapiro, who many know for his political commentary, is a lawyer so one thing he knows is the law. He makes a very interesting point. Right now Facebook is not a publisher. It’s just a platform where people share stuff. Legally speaking that means they aren’t liable for the content that people post (for the most part). Meaning if someone posts a libelous comment that person, not Facebook, can get sued.

But if Facebook is a publisher then they are liable for the content on their website. What alerted Shapiro to this way of thinking was a couple of comments that the Facebook founder made while testifying to Congress. “First, he acknowledged the problem of political bias at Facebook, explaining that Silicon Valley “is an extremely left-leaning place…I think it is a fair concern that people would at least wonder.” Second, under pressure from Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, Zuckerberg acknowledged that Facebook is “responsible for the content” posted on the platform.”

Shapiro explains that those two comments make it sound like Facebook is a publisher. Personally, I don’t want them to be. I want them to be a platform where I can share what I want to share. I will look at and click on ads (for things that interest me) and am perfectly happy to do so in exchange for use of that platform. I’m not so up in arms about privacy and Facebook. For me the privacy I am most concerned about is the right to keep things private from the government. I signed up for Facebook and read the terms of service, which means I understood from the start that they would be using my information to make themselves some cash. I made that deal.

On Tuesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before two Senate committees to testify about the company’s much-ballyhooed problems with maintaining user privacy. Zuckerberg acquitted himself well – or at least as well as he had to, given the fact that most of those questioning him were septuagenarians whose last computers were abacuses. But Zuckerberg did screw up in two separate areas.

Source: Facebook’s Zuckerberg is just another newspaper editor | The Sacramento Bee

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