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May 14, 2024 Censorship/Surveillance News

Censorship/Surveillance

RFK Jr. and Super PAC Sue Facebook Over Censorship, Election Interference

Lawyers representing Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and a political action committee supporting his presidential bid on Monday sued Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, after the company censored a biographical film about Kennedy and his work challenging corporate corruption.

rfk jr. on left and meta logo on right

Lawyers representing Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and a political action committee supporting his presidential bid on Monday sued Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, after the company censored a biographical film about Kennedy and his work challenging corporate corruption.

The case alleges Meta “is brazenly censoring speech” by and in support of Kennedy — Children’s Health Defense (CHD) founder and chairman-on-leave — “and lying to the public about it.”

“This case raises important issues about censorship of political candidates by social media giants like Meta,” said Rick Jaffe, the attorney representing Kennedy in the suit, in a press release. “I have no doubt this case will set a precedent as Americans increasingly rely on social media to form their opinions and values.”

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, demands a trial by jury.

Defendants include Meta, Mark Zuckerberg and related entities.

The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages. It also asks the court to bar Meta from continuing to interfere with the sharing and posting of the film and other messages supporting Kennedy’s campaign.

According to the complaint, Meta censored the 30-minute film, “Who is Bobby Kennedy?” which details Kennedy’s life and why he’s running for president.

Actor Woody Harrelson narrated the film. American Values 2024 — a super PAC endorsing Kennedy for president — bought the film and on May 3 launched it as a YouTube video on a dedicated website.

Super PACs, or “political action committees,” can raise unlimited sums of money to advocate for or against political candidates, according to OpenSecrets.org.

Many Facebook and Instagram users tried to post and share the film. Meta blocked them and restricted their accounts.

A Meta spokesperson on May 5 told The New York Times that the video was “mistakenly blocked” due to being inaccurately flagged as spam and that the issue “was corrected within a few hours.”

However, screenshots included with the complaint showed Meta was still censoring the video on May 7.

The complaint also alleges Meta censored other messages supporting Kennedy’s presidential campaign, including a user’s May 8 post encouraging people to sign a petition to get Kennedy’s name on the Texas ballot.

Meta removed the comment, saying it went against its community guidelines.

‘It all started with CHD’s case against Facebook’

Jaffe told The Defender that  RFK Jr. is “the tip of the spear protecting the public’s First Amendment rights.”

“It started with CHD’s case against Facebook,” he said, referring to a lawsuit CHD filed against Facebook in 2020, before Kennedy went on leave to run for president.

The case alleges Facebook, its “independent fact-checkers” and Zuckerberg worked jointly with the Biden administration to censor CHD social media content.

Facebook deplatformed CHD on Aug. 17, 2022, and disabled Kennedy’s personal Instagram account on Feb. 10, 2021.

The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has yet to rule on the case, said CHD General Counsel Kim Mack Rosenberg.

Meanwhile, “more and more evidence has come to light,” she told The Defender, “concerning social media platforms — including Meta — and the U.S. government censoring those who dared to challenge the prevailing narrative about COVID-19 and many other issues.”

Mack Rosenberg and Jaffe pointed out that Kennedy and CHD have brought other lawsuits alleging social media censorship.

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In Kennedy v. Biden, filed in March 2023, Kennedy and CHD sued President Joe Biden, Dr. Anthony Fauci and other top administration officials and federal agencies, alleging they “waged a systematic, concerted campaign” to compel the nation’s three largest social media companies to censor constitutionally protected speech.

Mack Rosenberg said a key point in these cases is showing that the government and the social media platforms were not interested in promoting truth or dialogue, but only in promoting one position — “regardless of the truth of that position or even how dangerous that narrative is.”

Kennedy v. Biden was consolidated in July 2023, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, with another censorship lawsuit, Murthy v. Missouri. The U.S. Supreme Court in March heard arguments on an injunction related to the case and is expected to rule early this summer.

Jaffe said Kennedy’s latest suit against Meta is “basically the other side” of those consolidated cases, which sued the government. “This case involves the private side partner, Meta.”

Meta did not respond by deadline to The Defender’s request for comment.

The Defender on occasion posts content related to Children’s Health Defense’s nonprofit mission that features Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s views on the issues CHD and The Defender regularly cover. In keeping with Federal Election Commission rules, this content does not represent an endorsement of Mr. Kennedy, who is on leave from CHD and is running as an independent for president of the U.S.

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