Nice try but no cigar, says man suing Facebook for censorship

In an article in the Washington Examiner, Świrski says that Poles are sensitive about censorship due to their experience of communist and, earlier, Nazi oppression. Archiwum/PAP

A Polish man is suing Facebook for undermining his rights to freedom of information.

Maciej Świrski, the former vice president of the Polish National Foundation, had his first hearing in a Polish court this month, charging that, “by suppressing open communication, the Silicon Valley giant had violated my rights under the Polish Constitution.“

Świrski explained that in November 2016, he was trying to find information about the Independence March in Warsaw but found that Facebook had suspended the accounts of the organisers.Leszek Szymański/PAP

In an article in the Washington Examiner, Świrski explained that in November 2016, he was trying to find information about the Independence March in Warsaw, but found that Facebook had suspended the accounts of the organisers.

He explains in the article that Poles are particularly sensitive about censorship due to their experience of communist and, earlier, Nazi oppression.

“This is why the Polish Constitution (…) includes blanket protections for the unrestricted flow of information in all kinds of media. Poland’s dual provisions are in fact more explicit than those of the U.S. Constitution,” he said.

Facebook’s lawyers argue that when they suspended the accounts they did so for everyone.Facebook

The two provisions of the Polish constitution Świrski cites are: “Everyone shall be guaranteed the freedom to express his views and to obtain and disseminate information.”

And the second banning preventive censorship of any medium by any party: “Preventive censorship of the means of social communication and the licensing of the press are prohibited. ..." In light of these constitutional freedoms, Świrski says that access to information is a basic right.

Świrski said that the Polish Constitution which “includes blanket protections for the unrestricted flow of information in all kinds of media” are more explicit than those in the US Constitution.Archiwum/PAP

Facebook’s lawyers argued that when they suspended the accounts they did so for everyone, however Świrski counter-argued that Facebook can identify users by any number of traits, including patriotism.

“I guess in America, you would say to Facebook’s attorneys, ’Nice try, but no cigar.’ The next hearing is scheduled for Oct. 30,” he wrote.