"A First Victory Against Big Tech!" - Belgian Lawmaker Awarded €27k From Meta For Unfair Facebook 'Shadowban'

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by Tyler Durden
Saturday, Jun 08, 2024 - 12:10 PM

Authored by Thomas Brooke via ReMix News,

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has been ordered to pay damages in the sum of €27,000 to a Belgian right-wing lawmaker for unfairly limiting his reach on the social media platform, otherwise known as “shadowbanning.”

The Antwerp Court of Appeal ruled on Monday in favor of Tom Vandendriessche, an MEP standing for reelection as the lead candidate for the Flemish separatist party, Vlaams Belang, in Belgium.

The court held that Facebook had unfairly censored Vandendriessche’s account, which currently boasts 234,000 followers, back in February 2021 and had failed to act “in accordance with the principle of good faith” and did not offer “sufficient procedural guarantees” for users who were subjected to such measures. His account was subsequently blocked in May of the same year.

Meta claimed it had acted in accordance with its community guidelines and accused the Belgian lawmaker of posting inappropriate content on the platform, leading to the shadowban. However, Vandendriessche was informed by the social media giant the ban had been lifted at the end of 2021, a claim he contested, as his organic reach remained artificially low.

No ruling was made on this claim, as the court held there was insufficient evidence to prove the account remained subject to adverse measures.

The judgment overruled the court of first instance, which ruled that Belgian courts did not have jurisdiction to decide on the matter, leading to an appeal to the higher court by Vandendriessche.

In a statement following the ruling, the Vlaams Belang politician hailed “a first victory against Big Tech,” insisting that “anonymous technocrats should never dictate what can be said and heard.”

“I hope that this ruling makes it clear to Facebook that they can no longer censor me, and many citizens with me, without consequences,” he added.

Vandendriessche was awarded €27,279 in damages, equal to the amount he had been forced to spend to contest the decision in the courts.

Meta refused to comment on the particulars of the case, but issued a statement reserving its “right to remove violating content and limit the organic reach of certain messages.”

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