Maffick posts millennial videos on Facebook pages titled "In the Now", "Waste-Ed" and "Soapbox". Check out this CNN article for background information. Facebook has added the new label "Russia State-Controlled Media" to its pages (see today's screenshot on the right; I've added the highlights). Maffick responded with a lawsuit of defamation and related claims and requested a TRO against the label. The court refuses.
The court bypasses the question of whether the label is an unworkable opinion and instead focuses on the core issue of whether the label is wrong. The court first reported on Facebook's evidence of Maffick's Russian involvement:
For its part, Facebook has produced ample evidence to back up its view that Maffick is linked to the Russian government. For example, Facebook has determined without a dispute from Maffick that a previous entity, Maffick Media GmbH ("Maffick Media"), openly recognized significant ties to the Russian government. Maffick's Soapbox, Waste-Ed and In the Now channels on Facebook are virtually identical to the same channels that Maffick Media previously sponsored under the same name. Maffick continues to use Maffick Media email addresses for these channels – "firstname.lastname@example.org" for In the Now; "Wasteemail@example.com" for Waste-Ed; and "firstname.lastname@example.org" for Soapbox. The current managing director of Maffick, Anissa Naouai, explicitly stated in a declaration attached to the TRO application that she has “a 49% stake” in Maffick Media and that another “partner” is a unit known as Ruptly GmbH. Facebook presented evidence that Ruptly is a subsidiary of RT (formerly Russia Today) that is "funded by the Russian government." A "2017 report by the US director for national intelligence services on Russia's interference in the 2016 US presidential election" states: "RT is considered the Kremlin's most important international propaganda outlet." Facebook these pages in February Suspended temporarily in 2019, RT-in-Chief editor Margarita Simonyan said, tweeted …: & # 39; Facebook has blocked our projects with billions of views !!! & # 39; Naouai's statement in response also states that while she is a US citizen, she lived in Moscow for years and was employed on Russia Today and hosted an opinion show for RT called "In the Now."
This is a sizable amount of evidence to support Facebook, and Maffick does not meaningfully deny it.
Instead, to counter the evidence from Facebook, the CEO of Maffick made “purely final statements that Maffick is free and free from Maffick Media and Russia…. In fact, Maffick claims that it will likely be successful on the matter because its CEO says so. “The judge says this self-certification is not enough to deserve the extraordinary resource of a TRO. The judge also says that any decrease in traffic from Maffick can be offset by monetary damage. Also:
The balance of the shares speaks more for Facebook. As the Ninth Circuit concluded in Garcia, the plaintiff's "thin copyright claim" did not outweigh the "historical and grave conjecture against" previous restrictions. Again, where Maffick asks that Facebook's talk about inconclusive evidence of falsehood be curtailed. We also note that Facebook's announcements have a public interest in "helping users better understand the sources of news content they see on Facebook," which can help them make "informed decisions about it." meet what they read ".
In fact, I appreciate Facebook's additional disclosure regarding the content source. Labeling doesn't solve every problem with unreliable sources, but maybe it helps me point out manipulation by foreign evildoers.
This lawsuit fits into the broader debate about anti-spam / anti-spyware / anti-malware efforts. Just as content producers do not like to be called Russian trolls (even if they are), spam / spyware / malware producers do not like to be called (not even something non-committal like "potentially unwanted program" "/ PUP). As a result, use them Company litigation or threats to “handle the arbitrators.” This is counterproductive because we expect mediators to give us their honest opinions and not bend their standards due to fear of litigation. I see Section 230 and anti-SLAPP laws as helpful Bulwarks that create some process free zones where intermediaries can serve their consumers better.
This decision does not clarify whether the current Maffick company is actually a Russian troll operation. However, if it does, I don't see why the attorneys (John Ulin and Amy Nashon Stalling of Troy Gould) would represent such a company.
If you are actually into Maffick's Facebook Pages, why? I encourage you to always think about the content you are consuming and the agendas of the producers.
Case quote: Maffick LLC v Facebook Inc., 2020 WL 5257853 (N.D. Cal. September 3, 2020). The complaint.