The highest court in Texas now has something to say about Facebook. Apparently, the social media giant is now going to be held liable for sex trafficking that has been conducted on their social media network. The court ruled against the tech giant, and that means that these teen victims that allege they were targeted on Facebook might be entitled to some compensation.
Facebook’s legal team tried to argue that the tech giant was protected against liability due to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, because this “protects websites from lawsuits if something illegal is posted on their site, however there are exceptions for copyright violations, sex work-related material, and violations of federal criminal law,” according to The Verge.
However, the Texas Supreme Court ruled last Friday that Facebook cannot be characteirzed as a “lawless no-man’s-land on the Internet” in which states are powerless to impose any type of liability on website that are knowingly or intentionally profiting off of the evil of online human trafficking.”
The majority wrote, “we do not understand section 230 to have the ability to ‘create a lawless no-man’s-land’ on the internet where states are totally powerless to impose liability on websites that are knowingly or intentionally participating in the evil of the online human trafficking market.”
“Holding internet platforms accountable for the words and deeds of their users is one thing, but the federal precedent uniformly dictates that section 230 should not allow it,” one member of the majority opinion wrote. “Holding internet accountable for their own misdeeds is something entirely different, and this is particularly the case for human trafficking.”
This court ruling came after three Texas-based lawsuits had been brought against Facebook, alleging that the social media platform allowed sex traffickers to target minors. Most of the time, the victims would be lured by promises of a better future and modeling jobs that didn’t really exist. The lawsuit alleged that the tech giant was negligent when it came to protecting minors from the sex traffickers on this social media platform. The pimps enticed these sex trafficking victims with promises of love as well.
“One of the cases involved a 14-year-old from Spring, and it recounted how the girl had been recruited, groomed and sold in 2018 by a man who met her on Instagram,” the Houston Chronicle wrote in a report last April. “She was beaten by the trafficker and she was sold for commercial sex for three weeks. The reporter noted that the child had undergone extensive therapy in the years since being rescued from this terrible predicament.”
One of the lead attorneys in this lawsuit said that the case against Facebook was unprecedented.
“Our clients have fought for two years for the opportunity to bring their case,” the lawyer said. “While they have a long road ahead, we are grateful that the Texas Supreme Court found that these sex trafficking survivors have the right to experience their day in court against Facebook.”
The lawyer continued, “Now that we have protection because of Chapter 98, we know that trafficking survivors in Texas will be able to expose and hold businesses such as Facebook accountable that benefit from these crimes of exploitation.”
Chapter 98 of the Texas Civil Practice and Civil Remedies Code states the following: “Any defendant who engages in the trafficking of persons or who intentionally or knowingly benefits from participating in such a venture would be liable to the person trafficked, as provided by this chapter, for damages arising from the trafficking of that person by the defendant or venture.”
A spokesperson for Facebook told Fox Business, “We’re reviewing the decision and considering potential next steps. Sex trafficking is abhorrent and not allowed on Facebook. We will continue our fight against the spread of this content and the predators who engage in it.”
A 2020 report by the Human Trafficking Institute uncovered that Facebook was one of the most common websites used for sex trafficking.
Earlier this month, nearly three dozen women launched a lawsuit against Pornhub, claiming the adult site is running a “criminal enterprise” that is knowingly profiting off videos involving rape, sex trafficking and child porn.
Do you think Facebook should be held accountable for this?