I took my sweet time to check if this was an April Fools joke to be put on our exhaustive 2011 list, but it appears to be as real as can be.
Larry Klayman, a renowned American activist, former Justice Department prosecutor, former U.S. Senate candidate and book author, says he has sued both Facebook and founder Mark Zuckerberg for over $1 billion after the social networking giant failed to remove a page calling for a third intifada against Israel’s Jewish population swiftly enough.
The suit was filed yesterday in Washington by Klayman, himself of Jewish origin. The complaint is embedded below.
Klayman, who founded controversial law firm Judicial Watch as well as political advocacy group Freedom Watch, alleges that Zuckerberg and Facebook willfully kept a page calling for a third Palestinian intifada against Jews online to “further their revenues and the net worth” of the company. The page, which was removed on March 29 because, according to Facebook, it indeed made “direct calls for violence” in violation of its policies.
On the page, Palestinians were urged to take to the streets after Friday prayers on May 15, 2011, and commence an uprising in the vein of the first two popular intifadas. “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews,” read the call. The page reportedly garnered more than 340,000 fans.
The removal of the page, which according to Klayman was “begrudgingly” ordered after increased pressure was exerted by himself, the Israeli government and organizations like the Anti-Defamation League, did not stop him from filing suit against the company.
The activist argues that damage has already been done, and that he fears for his life since he’s been “called a Zionist publicly by radical Palestinians and other such Arabic interests” and is “thus a target of this call to kill Jews” along with other prominent public figures.
The complaint alleges assault and negligence, gross negligence and recklessness on Facebook’s part. It reserves the right to be amended into a class action suit and prays for damages in excess of $1 billion, plus an award of attorneys fees and costs.
Amusingly, Klayman bases part of his allegations on the fictional movie ‘The Social Network’:
“While Facebook has accomplished a lot of good, it can, as in this instance, be used for nefarious and evil purposes. Defendants Zuckerberg’s and Facebook’s callous and greedy actions in not taking down the page, but willfully allowing it to stay up for many days, has caused huge damage, for which they must be held accountable, so as to prevent this from ever happening again.
They must be not only enjoined but also hit in their purse, which is where they understand matters best. Apparently, the ethically compromised Zuckerberg has no conscience or sense of right or wrong, as depicted recently in the award winning film “Social Network.”
On the off chance that you still think this is a joke (and I’m honestly still a little in doubt myself), know that Klayman isn’t one to kid around when it comes to litigation.
As the founder and former Chairman of Judicial Watch, he attained notoriety through the initiation of 18 civil lawsuits against the Clinton Administration, and subsequently, an unsuccessful lawsuit against Vice-President Dick Cheney in order to obtain information about the White House’s energy task force.
Klayman’s targets have also included OPEC and Osama bin Laden. Most of his high profile lawsuits have been dismal failures, though.
Klayman also authored a book titled ‘WHORES: Why and How I Came to Fight the Establishment’ and regularly writes columns for conservative news site WorldNewsDaily.
Slate in a column titled Nut Watch once dubbed Klayman a “one-man litigation explosion” after word got out that, aside from suing the likes of Hillary Clinton, Venezuela President Hugo Chavez, the Ground Zero Mosque and the Federal Reserve and the Department of the Treasury, he once even filed a lawsuit against his own mother.
Request for comments were not immediately returned by either Facebook or mr. Klayman.
Update: Facebook declined to comment on the lawsuit as it hasn’t been served yet, but issued this statement with regards to the controversial page:
“The Page, The Third Palestinian Intifada, began as a call for peaceful protest, even though it used a term that has been associated with violence in the past. In addition, the administrators initially removed comments that promoted violence. However, after the publicity of the Page, more comments deteriorated to direct calls for violence. Eventually, the administrators also participated in these calls. After administrators of the page received repeated warnings about posts that violated our policies, we removed the Page.
We continue to believe that people on Facebook should be able to express their opinions, and we don’t typically take down content that speaks out against countries, religions, political entities, or ideas.
However, we monitor Pages that are reported to us and when they degrade to direct calls for violence or expressions of hate–as occurred in this case–we have and will continue to take them down.”