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Meta Lawsuit Challenges Users’ Control Over Facebook Feeds

Lawsuit against Meta asks if Facebook users have right to control their feeds

The lawsuit against Meta Platforms Inc., filed by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University on behalf of a professor from Amherst, questions whether users have the right to control their social media feeds. The suit argues that a federal law, typically used to protect internet companies from liability, also permits users to employ external tools to manage their feed, including the option to shut it off entirely.

The tool in question, Unfollow Everything 2.0, is a browser extension designed to allow Facebook users to unfollow friends, groups, and pages, effectively clearing their newsfeed. The intention is to provide users with more control over their consumption of content, potentially reducing excessive usage. This legal challenge emerges amidst previous instances where developers faced backlash from Meta for releasing similar tools, highlighting the company’s resistance to such control mechanisms.

Meta Lawsuit Challenges Users' Control Over Facebook Feeds

Meta Lawsuit Challenges Users’ Control Over Facebook Feeds (Credits: The Star)

Ethan Zuckerman, the Amherst professor involved in the lawsuit, emphasizes the lack of user control over social media platforms compared to other internet services historically. The lawsuit aims to establish whether users have the right to filter objectionable material from their news feeds under Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which provides immunity to software developers creating content filtering tools.

Zuckerman’s initiative seeks to pre-empt any legal action from Meta by proactively challenging the company’s stance on user control. The lawsuit potentially sets a precedent for increased user agency over social media experiences and could foster new avenues for research and development in this domain.

Ramya Krishnan, a senior staff attorney at the Knight Institute, underscores users’ rights to shape their social media experiences, arguing that they should not be compelled to accept platforms as they are provided. This legal dispute reflects broader concerns regarding user autonomy and control in the context of social media platforms, raising significant implications for the future regulation and design of these platforms.

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