Overpasses for America seeks criminal prosecution after Facebook yanks page

Facebook ban laughterRecently, Facebook, the social media site increasingly known as the “world’s most dangerous censor,” unpublished the popular “Overpasses for America” page without providing any reason.  In response, the page owner has obtained the services of an attorney and is asking the Department of Justice to prosecute the social media giant for violating the civil rights of the owners and supporters of the page.

In his letter to the DOJ, Andrew Straw, a civil rights attorney representing James Neighbors of Oklahoma and the Overpasses page, wrote:

Facebook has deliberately unpublished or “shut down” the Overpasses page multiple times, causing logistical problems for the group and a significant amount of emotional distress and physical pain to Mr. Neighbors. Facebook either says it is shutting down because there is objectionable material, or for no given reason. The latest shut down provided no reason at all. Mr. Neighbors informs me that often what will happen is a flood of liberal “trolls” will come onto the page, make obnoxious remarks, and then complain about the page, finally resulting in Facebook shutting down the page rather than dealing with the trolls.

Mr. Neighbors and Overpasses (a nonprofit) have civil rights against such harassment by Facebook or anyone else. This includes his and his group’s political and religious and other civil rights under 42 USC 1985(3). Overpasses demonstrated for then-candidate Donald Trump and conservative candidates for Congress. These activities are specifically listed as protected.

Neighbors, Straw added, “accuses Facebook of committing civil rights crimes under 18 USC 241, 245, and 247 by shutting down the Overpasses page for no reason or a civil rights-violative reason. Facebook not only disrupted the message and the material, but it also interfered with demonstrations in all 50 states, because that is what this group does. Demonstrations and First Amendment political speech are the whole raison d’etre of the group.

Mr. Neighbors, Overpasses, and its 310,000 followers demand prosecution to prevent any future injuries and interference with this group. They also demand restitution for the interference, attorney fees, and any other relief to make each and every member and the nonprofit whole. Facebook should pay enough that it understands it cannot criminally violate the civil rights of American citizens exercising their rights to free speech and assembly,” he said.

We reached out to Straw and confirmed that he represents the Overpasses page.  Furthermore, he said that he is proud to do so.

We also asked how he intends to work around Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which, as Adina Kutnicki and I wrote in our book, “Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad,” has been interpreted by a federal judge to mean that the site can do whatever it wants, including censor constitutionally-protected speech, with no legal consequences.

Straw, however, said that subsection (e) is the key to his action.  That subsection reads:

(1) No effect on criminal law

Nothing in this section shall be construed to impair the enforcement of section 223 or 231 of this title, chapter 71 (relating to obscenity) or 110 (relating to sexual exploitation of children) of title 18, or any other Federal criminal statute.

(2) No effect on intellectual property law

Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit or expand any law pertaining to intellectual property.

(3) State law

Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent any State from enforcing any State law that is consistent with this section. No cause of action may be brought and no liability may be imposed under any State or local law that is inconsistent with this section.

(4) No effect on communications privacy law

Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the application of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 or any of the amendments made by such Act, or any similar State law.

“That’s why the DOJ can step in and help, and also get restitution for us.  Any group can join in complaining and ask the DOJ to seek restitution.  That includes attorney fees,” Straw said.  “Facebook appears to be singling out conservative pages and did so during a presidential campaign year, so now there needs to be accountability.”

Using the hashtag #FBDOJProsecution, the page asked supporters to call the DOJ and ask them to prosecute the social media giant:

Facebook Overpasses for AmericaRelated:

If you haven’t checked out and liked our Facebook page, please go here and do so.

And if you’re as concerned about Facebook censorship as we are, go here and order this new book:

Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad
Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad – Source: Author (used with permission)

Joe Newby

A 10-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Joe ran for a city council position in Riverside, Calif., in 1991 and managed successful campaigns for the Idaho state legislature. Co-author of "Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad," Joe wrote for Examiner.com from 2010 until it closed in 2016 and his work has been published at Newsbusters, Spokane Faith and Values and other sites. He now runs the Conservative Firing Line.

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