Greetings. I've spent several hours today working to verify that the story I'm about to relate isn't a bad April Fools' Day joke. As far as I can tell, based on various sources (at least one of which dates back to last night), it appears to be legit -- and totally nuts.
Much as I'm not a fan of Facebook nor Mark Zuckerberg, I'm even less accepting of wacko lawsuits. This one takes the cake.
Apparently "political activist" Larry Klayman of "Freedom Watch" feels that his life has been threatened by Facebook's not rapidly enough taking down a "Third Intifada" page supposedly posted by a radical Palestinian group. So Klayman is suing Facebook and Marc Zuckerberg for in excess of (cue Dr. Evil ...) One Billion Dollars!
Keep in mind that Facebook did take the page down (of course, it is now widely mirrored elsewhere), but not fast enough for Mr. Klayman. Bizarrely, Klayman is accusing Zuckerberg of personally profiting from turmoil in the Middle East and -- at least by inference -- from threats against Jews (no matter that Zuckerberg himself was raised Jewish).
Verifying that the entire nonsense of this lawsuit is actually serious (it even invokes The Social Network as "evidence") was complicated by Klayman's March 31 press release, which (as you can see I've indicated) misspelled the word "Intifada" both times it was used -- as "Infitada" -- just the sort of thing I'd expect in a satirical piece.
But it looks like this is a real lawsuit, not a poor attempt at humor.
I'm pretty disgusted. I'm also very unhappy with the Anti-Defamation League -- lately a seeming champion of censorship in various guises -- who had also been putting pressure on Facebook to pull that page.
As usual, all these attempts to censor information on the Net have mainly resulted in far more attention being drawn to those pages and their various continuing copies than would ever otherwise have been the case.
The cure for information that you don't like is more information, not less. Fight ideas that you disagree with using other ideas, not by trying to suppress the availability of other persons' opinions, however abhorrent you may consider them to be.
As I've said before, I believe that search engines could play an important role in facilitating a positive process of information discovery in this regard.
Efforts to control information through censorship on the Internet not only dangerously raise false expectations since they will almost inevitably fail in major ways, but they also make everyone involved in pushing such intolerant agendas look like -- you guessed it -- utter fools. And Klayman's lawsuit? "Obscene" is the most polite word I can honestly use here.
And that's all true any day of the year -- even on April Fools' Day.