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Facebook’s terms and conditions are a binding contract with the user which breach enables blocking a user’s profile

January 11, 2021

Facebook blocked the user profile of Professor Amir Hetsroni who posed racist content which, although in the spirit of ordinary publications of the user, he contended to be of a satirical nature.
The Court held that Facebook was entitled by virtue of the agreement between the parties to block the user's account. Facebook’s terms of use and community rules constitute a binding agreement between the platform and the users. While Facebook provides a platform that allows users to exercise their right to freedom of speech under law, it is not obligated to provide said platform when it comes to content that may harm other users. Thus, the Terms and Conditions state that users are prohibited from posting content that constitutes hate speech and that Facebook may remove such infringing content on a one-off basis or terminate the engagement with the User completely. In order to examine whether a particular expression is a hate speech, it is not necessary that it incite violence, but whether the expression is directed at a group or individual associated with a group on the basis of their association to the group, whether it expresses hatred and whether the speaker intended to cause damage. Usually, satirical content is granted some protection and can avoid being classified as hate speech. However, this requires other users of the platform to be aware of it being satirical, either by explicitly stating so in the user profile or on the content itself. Publication of a manifesto cannot be deemed a satire. Here, the content posted by the user constitutes hate speech because it was directed towards groups or individuals on the basis of their association with the group and clearly expressed hatred and contempt using statements that are not socially acceptable. In addition, while the user stated in his profile that some of the content is satirical, no distinction was made in the posts themselves to indicate which were satirical and which were not and the content clearly expressed ideological positions actually held by the user. Moreover, the very fact that the platform received various reports from users regarding the content indicates that the platform’s users did not see the content as satirical but as hate speech. Facebook fulfilled its obligations under the agreement between the parties in a fair and non-arbitrary manner and gave the user repeated warnings when it removed posts from the platform but the user continued to breach the agreement by continuing to post prohibited content. Therefore, Facebook was entitled to exercise its right under the agreement and block the user’s account permanently.