Unblocking a Personal Profile on Facebook Under the Digital Services Act

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Can Digital Services Act help me unblock my profile?

The legal question is about the applicability of the Digital Services Act (DSA) in a scenario where a user’s Facebook profile has been blocked due to allegations of it being used for advertising personal business achievements. The user views the block as unjustified and is seeking a remedy under the DSA to restore access to their profile. The inferred goal is to understand the rights and mechanisms available within the DSA that could assist in challenging the block and potentially have the profile unblocked.

  1. Specifics of the block: The exact reasons provided by Facebook for the profile block are not detailed, nor is the content that led to the block described. The DSA’s applicability might depend on the nature of the alleged violation.

  2. Communication with Facebook: It’s unclear whether any formal communication or warnings were issued by Facebook prior to the block, or whether any appeal process has already been initiated.

  3. Business nature and operations: The description of the user’s company and the nature of the posts deemed as advertising are ambiguous. Whether the profile’s content strictly relates to personal or business matters could influence the situation.

  4. Previous similar cases: Information on whether similar blocks have occurred in the past with the same or different social media users, which could provide precedents under the DSA, is absent.

  5. DSA’s effective date: The timing of the block in relation to the enforcement date of the DSA is not mentioned, which could affect the availability of remedies under the DSA.

Note: The junior lawyer is what we call a subsystem of Hotseat that completes helper tasks

  1. Specifics of the block: The user’s Facebook profile was used to discuss and promote business achievements related to the user’s company, potentially leading to Facebook categorizing the activity as commercial use, which might be against its terms of service.

  2. Communication with Facebook: Facebook blocked the profile without prior explicit warnings about the user’s activities and did not provide a clear and transparent process for contesting the decision.

  3. Business nature and operations: The user’s company is a start-up, and the user posted about the company on their personal Facebook profile as part of sharing personal professional experiences, not direct advertising.

  4. Previous similar cases: There have been no previous incidents of the profile being blocked for similar reasons, and the user has not encountered comparable situations with other social media platforms.

  5. DSA’s effective date: The block occurred after the Digital Services Act came into effect, making its provisions relevant to the user’s situation.

Plan for the Junior Lawyer:

  1. Understanding DSA Scope and Definitions:

    • Examine Article 2 to determine if Facebook, as an online platform, falls within the scope of the DSA.
  2. Analyzing Rights of Users:

    • Explore Recital 70 and Article 20 to understand the rights of users with respect to contesting decisions made by an online platform that restricts access to services.
  3. Identifying Transparency Requirements for Platforms:

    • Check Articles 14 and 15 to ascertain the transparency obligations on Facebook to provide reasons for the blocking of the user’s profile.
  4. Evaluating Internal Complaint-Handling Systems:

    • Review Article 17 regarding the necessity of providing a statement of reasons for restricting access to user content and the obligation of platforms to have internal complaint handling systems under Article 19.
  5. Examine Appeal Processes:

    • Analyze Article 20 to assess the availability of internal complaint-handling mechanisms users can utilize to contest the restriction of access to their content on an online platform.
  6. Looking into Out-of-Court Dispute Settlements:

    • Study Article 21 to check if Facebook, as an online platform, offers out-of-court settlement procedures for users affected by restrictions.
  7. Understanding Crisis Response Mechanism:

    • Explore Article 36 to comprehend any crisis response mechanism that might be relevant in the user’s situation of profile blocking.
  8. Research Possible Influence of Advertising:

    • Assess Article 26 concerning obligations for platforms when presenting advertisements and clarify if the user’s content might have been mistakenly classified as advertising.
  9. Understanding High-Risk AI Systems, if applicable:

    • If Facebook’s decision-making process concerning the block involved AI systems, review Article 28 for potential obligations related to AI systems used by platforms.
  10. Review of Supervisory Role and Remedies:

    • Explore Article 39 for any measures the user might take if they deem Facebook’s process of blocking the profile not transparent or if there are systemic issues in how Facebook handles such cases.
  11. Constructing the Legal Argument:

    • Utilize findings from the above research to construct a legal argument that could be presented to Facebook’s internal complaint mechanisms or relevant out-of-court bodies to contest the block under the DSA.
    • Consider addressing Facebook’s transparency measures about the decision, the process offered to the user to contest the decision, and how the DSA’s relevant provisions can support the unblocking of the profile.

Definitions and Terms from the Digital Services Act (DSA):

  • Online Platform: A hosting service that, at the request of a recipient of the service, stores and disseminates information to the public, unless the activity is ancillary (Article 2).
  • Restriction of Access: Any measure taken by a service provider that affects the availability or visibility of information provided by the recipient of the service (Article 17).
  • Internal Complaint-Handling System: An effective system provided by online platforms allowing users to lodge complaints against decisions taken by the platform, including decisions to remove or restrict user content (Article 20).
  • Out-of-Court Dispute Settlement: A voluntary mechanism through which an independent body can resolve disputes between platforms and users affected by the platforms’ decisions (Article 21).
  • High-Risk AI System: Though not directly referenced in user’s question, high-risk AI Systems under the DSA could be relevant if the decision by the platform was made using an AI system enhancing transparency and due process obligations of the platform (Inferred from the DSA context).

Question Clarity Rating

Somewhat clear

Clarity Rating Explanation

The question provides a general idea of the user’s situation and intent and some relevant context. However, it lacks specific details about the content and nature of the posts, prior communications with Facebook, and actions already taken by the user to address the problem, which are essential to determine applicable provisions of the DSA. Several substantial assumptions had to be made to contextualize the question within the DSA’s scope fully.