TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Bellair Bluffs man is suing Facebook parent company Meta for $8,000 over a ban which “blocked” his use of the platform. According to his lawsuit, he was banned “immediately” due to a comment made “in jest” to a friend.
According to the suit filed in the small claims division of Pinellas County Court, the man claims Facebook banned him for making a comment to someone he calls a “close personal friend” on Facebook. The ban came “within moments” of making the comment on May 15, according to the lawsuit.
Since that time, he claims he has lost revenue due to an inability to access Facebook. His court filing also says it is not the first time he was prohibited from using Facebook in 2022.
“Plaintiff was blocked from his use of the Facebook platform on March 13 and March 28, 2022 for political comments to another party to the conversation that, when taken in context were not threatening or otherwise harmful,” the suit says.
For the blocks in March, the man’s filing says “Each of these blocks was for 30 days.” Another incident described in court document says “there was a further incident when again a joke was made to a friend and Plaintiff was blocked for 30 days.”
With the latest incident, the block from Facebook appeared permanent. According to the suit, this led to his loss of revenue as a business owner who uses the site for “social media services” related to his work as “as an author and writer and also the selling of boating and marine products to the boating audience within his Facebook groups.”
The man says the comment at issue for the latest block was made in jest, but Facebook’s policies led to a review and subsequent blocking of his account. He argued in his court filing that Facebook’s operating procedures make it so “it is not possible to provide a screenshot of the conversation between Plaintiff and [his friend] to demonstrate” the context of the comments.
The filing in small claims court also said “It is the plaintiff’s understanding that the acts of blocking and review on the part of the Defendant were accomplished through the use of algorithms which monitor speech on the platform,” and that the algorithms are “automated” and have “no human oversight.” He said it appeared the block was automated due to the speed of the disciplinary action to his account.
In his lawsuit, the man requests damages in the amount of “$499.99,” as a principal sum, court costs in the amount of $90, nine percent interest on the amount requested for loss of privileges per day starting on May 15, attorney’s fees in the amount of $450 and a daily penalty of $1,000 for each day his “account privileges are not restored.”