The Texas Supreme Court ruled on Friday that Facebook can be held responsible if sex traffickers use the platform to prey on children. Following three Texas-based lawsuits involving teenage sex traffic victims, the state court ruled that Facebook is not a ‘lawless no-man’s land’ and that it can be held accountable.
The victims were allegedly preyed on via the social media platform’s messaging system, prompting prosecutors to accuse the site of negligence in failing to better block sex trafficking opportunities. Facebook argued that it is protected by Section 230 of the Communications Act, which states that online platforms are not responsible for third-party content posted on the service’s website.
‘Holding internet platforms accountable for words or actions of their users is one thing, and the federal precedent uniformly dictates that section 230 does not allow it,’ the court found, according to the Chronicle. ‘Holding internet platforms accountable for their own misdeeds is quite another thing. This is particularly the case for human trafficking.’
The Facebook spoke person said, ‘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.’ Reforming Section 230 could mean that large companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google are held to more stringent standards regarding what is published on their platforms.