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Lawsuit Claims Law Requires Meta Let You Control Your Own Feed

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Lawsuit Claims Law Requires Meta Let You Control Your Own Feed

a demand presented on Wednesday Against Meta argues that US law requires the company to allow people to use unofficial plugins to gain more control over their social networks.

It’s the latest in a series of disputes in which the company has fought with researchers and developers over tools that give users additional privacy options or collect research data. It could clear the way for researchers to release plugins that help investigate how social platforms’ algorithms affect their users, and it could give people more control over the algorithms that shape their lives.

Costume was presented by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University on behalf of researcher Ethan Zuckerman, associate professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He is attempting to take a federal law that has generally protected social media and use it as a tool to force transparency.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is best known for allowing social media companies to avoid legal liability for the content on their platforms. Zuckerman’s lawsuit contends that one of its subsections gives users the right to control how they access the Internet and the tools they use to do so.

“Section 230(c)(2)(b) is quite explicit about libraries, parents, and others having the ability to monitor obscene or other unwanted content on the Internet,” Zuckerman says. “In fact, I think that anticipates having control over a social network like Facebook, having the ability to say, ‘We want to be able to opt out of the algorithm.'”

Zuckerman’s lawsuit aims to prevent Facebook from blocking a new browser extension for Facebook it is working on called Unfollow Everything 2.0. It would allow users to easily “unfollow” friends, groups, and pages on the service, meaning their updates would no longer appear in the user’s newsfeed.

Zuckerman says this would provide users with the power to effectively adjust or disable the feed based on Facebook engagement. Technically, users can do this without the tool, but only by unfollowing each friend, group, and page individually.

There is good reason to think that Meta could make changes to Facebook to block Zuckerman’s tool after it is released. He says he won’t release it without a decision on his lawsuit. In 2020, the company argued that the Friendly browser, which allowed users to search and reorder their Facebook news feed, as well as block ads and trackers, broken its terms of service and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. In 2021, Meta permanently banned Louis Barclaya British developer who had created a tool called Unfollow Everything, after which Zuckerman’s plugin is named.

“I still remember the feeling of unfollowing everything for the first time. It was almost miraculous. I hadn’t lost anything, as I could still see my friends and favorite groups going straight to them,” Barclay wrote for Board At the time. “But he had gained an astonishing amount of control. I no longer felt the temptation to scroll down an endless feed of content. The time I spent on Facebook decreased dramatically.”

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