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The Texas Supreme Court dealt a crushing blow to Facebook by ruling the tech giant can be held liable for sex traffickers using its platform.
Facebook was allegedly used to recruit and prey on child victims, which led to three lawsuits involving teenage victims. The traffickers reportedly used Facebook’s messaging tool.
The court said, “Holding internet platforms accountable for the words or actions of their users is one thing, and the federal precedent uniformly dictates that section 230 does not allow it.”
“Holding internet platforms accountable for their own misdeeds is quite another thing. This is particularly the case for human trafficking,” the court’s ruling concluded.
Facebook attempted to argued the company is protected by “Section 230,” which states online platforms are not liable for what people post on their services.
Therefore, Facebook claims, the company cannot be held responsible for what is posted on its platform.
However, the court disagreed and “”said Section 230 doesn’t mean Facebook can operate as a ‘lawless no-man’s-land.'”
A Facebook spokesperson said the company is “reviewing the decision and considering potential next steps.”
“Sex trafficking is abhorrent and not allowed on Facebook. We will continue our fight against the spread of this content and the predators who engage in it,” Facebook added.
More from Business Insider:
Section 230 has become the focus of conversations surrounding moderation on internet platforms. Many have called for tech companies to be treated as publishers, since news outlets are alternatively held liable for what they post online.
Online recruitment for sex trafficking victims has surged over the years, and a recent report from the Human Trafficking Institute found that most online recruitment in active cases last year occurred on Facebook.
“The internet has become the dominant tool that traffickers use to recruit victims, and they often recruit them on a number of very common social networking websites,” Human Trafficking Institute CEO Victor Boutros told CBS News earlier this month. “Facebook overwhelmingly is used by traffickers to recruit victims in active sex trafficking cases.”