Facebook continues to blur the line between publisher and platform.
In an announcement last week, Facebook revealed that it will now ban users for discussing or linking to forbidden organizations during live streams, and will do so without warning the offenders.
Facebook announced last week that it is applying a “one strike” policy to users who violate their nebulous community standards when it comes to live video.
The platform will now ban users who share “a link to a statement from a terrorist group with no context will now be immediately blocked from using Live for a set period of time,” that may be as much as 30 days.
The big tech platform has repeatedly insisted that it is neither part of the digital public square nor a publisher, which gives it certain protections.
As they are not part of a public square, they are able to ban users who they do not wish to be part of the platform without violating the First Amendment.
Similarly, as they maintain they are not a publisher, they do not take legal ownership of the opinions or statements made by their users.
In the announcement, Facebook cites the tragic shooting at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand as the cause of this new policy. The Christchurch shooter famously streamed his attack on Facebook live, and the platform was woefully slow at removing the violent video from its platform.
This rule would not seem to do anything to prevent this in the future. The alleged shooter did not have a history of posting inflammatory content using Facebook Live, and though his account is now deleted, it is believed the live stream of his horrific attack was the first time he used the platform to live stream.
Facebook maintains that this new policy is simply an advanced method to enforce their ever changing community standards, and does not mean it is crossing into the territory of a publisher.
However, as the platform continues to take more editorial control over the statements of its users, now policing the language and content utilized by users in live streams, it appears to be moving closer to the status of a true publisher.