Leveraging Digital Services Act Against Facebook Profile Block

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I’m running an ambitious bootstrapped company called Justjoin.it - a job board for programmers. I used Facebook and my personal to talk about company building, and our successes. Facebook blocked my profile claiming I’m using it for advertising by posting from my personal profile. I tried to appeal their decision through their automated form, but I have not received any response. My company is based in Poland. Can regulations in Digital Services Act help me unblock my profile? Is there a part of the regulation I can use as leverage against Facebook to force them to act in my favor?

The legal question pertains to an individual whose personal Facebook profile has been blocked on the grounds of using it for business-related content dissemination. The blocking was unilateral without a clear resolution channel through the platform’s appeal process. The inquirer seeks to ascertain whether the Digital Services Act (DSA) contains provisions that could support the unblocking of their Facebook profile or compel Facebook to respond positively to their appeal.

The overarching goal inferred is to find a legal basis within the DSA that can be used as leverage against Facebook, which implies that the inquirer is looking for specific provisions in the DSA that obligate Facebook (considered as an online platform) to review the decision to block the profile, enable restitution, possibly prevent such incidents in the future, and provide a transparent process during disputes.

Plan for the Junior Lawyer:

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

  1. Review relevant provisions related to transparency and dispute resolution:

    • Begin by consulting Article 17 and Recital 53 to understand the obligation of a hosting service provider to provide a statement of reasons when restricting the visibility of information.
    • Next, refer to Articles 20 and 21 along with Recitals 58 and 59 to grasp the internal complaint-handling system and the out-of-court dispute settlement mechanisms required for providers of online platforms.
  2. Study obligations specific to providers of online platforms regarding the blocking of user accounts:

    • Analyze Article 20, focusing on the mechanisms that online platforms must provide for users to contest decisions that negatively affect them, including the termination of accounts.
    • Examine Article 21 to understand the procedure for an out-of-court dispute settlement as a means of redress that the user can employ.
  3. Investigate potential leverage points within the DSA for engaging with Facebook:

    • Consult Recital 72, as well as Article 38 which stipulates recommender system transparency, to determine if the provisions can be used to support the argument that the user had a legitimate expectation for Facebook’s recommender system to not unduly prioritize or demote content.
    • Review Article 23 and Recital 62 to see if the concept of “trusted flaggers” helps in the case of a dispute about content deemed illegal or contrary to platform terms.
  4. Examine the DSA for provisions on the expedients of appeals and responses by online platforms:

    • Look into Recital 25 and Article 19 to find stipulations about response times for providers of online platforms and procedures they must follow once a user objects to a content restriction.
  5. List definitions and terms from the Digital Services Act:

    • Hosting service: Storage of information provided by, and at the request of, a recipient of the service (Article 3 definitions (g)(iii)).
    • Online platform: a hosting service that stores and disseminates information to the public upon request of a recipient (Article 3 definitions (i)).
    • Internal complaint-handling system: A system that providers of online platforms must establish for recipients to lodge complaints against the decisions taken by the provider (Article 20).
  6. Prepare for potential plan execution steps:

    • Based on the findings from the above provisions and articles, construct a legal argument or a set of arguments citing the specific provisions of the DSA that Facebook may have infringed upon by not responding to the appeal, such as breaching the right to an effective remedial system.
    • Prepare a detailed process for resubmitting the appeal with references to the DSA, clearly articulating the presumed infringements and the obligations of Facebook based on the specific provisions of the DSA identified.

Notes on Ambiguity:

  • The legal question does not specify whether the individual’s social media profile is used exclusively for personal purposes or if it has become associated closely with business activity. The provisions in the plan should consider both possibilities.
  • The legal question implies a need for direct intervention from regulatory bodies stipulated by the DSA, which may not be immediately enforceable given the DSA’s implementation timeline. The plan should account for current applicability based on the DSA’s timeline of enforcement.

This plan will guide the junior lawyer through a detailed analysis of the DSA to understand its applications to the case described and equip them to build a robust argument leveraging the DSA’s provisions for resolution with Facebook.

Question Clarity Rating

Somewhat clear

Clarity Rating Explanation

The original question provides a clear scenario and expresses the specific assistance required concerning the Digital Services Act. However, it lacks detail on the nature of the blocked content, previous interactions with Facebook regarding policy violations, and whether other channels on Facebook (like a business profile) have been utilized for appealing. The response of Facebook regarding the violation also remains ambiguous. These details are crucial as they determine the applicability of the DSA and inform any further legal recommendations.