Feeds

Game censorship crusader sues Facebook for $120m

Claims emotional distress from user group threats

Boost IT visibility and business value

Anti-video game gadfly Jack Thompson is suing Facebook for $120 million, accusing the social website of causing him emotional distress by not removing threatening comments posted by gamers.

Thompson is best known for his frenzied attempts to sue game makers over claims adult content in video games is directly responsible for acts of real-world violence. Last year, he was permanently disbarred by the Florida Supreme Court after it ruled he "abused the legal system by submitting numerous, frivolous and inappropriate filings."

His ostentatious behavior both in court and as a talking head on news programs has also made him a subject of considerable anger and ridicule among gamers. In a lawsuit filed in Florida on August 29, Thompson said several user groups on Facebook are advocating physical harm against him.

There are literally hundreds of anti-Thompson groups on Facebook, usually with rude but non-threatening names like "Jack Thompson Needs To Stop Using National Tragedy To Promote His Books," or, quicker to the point, "Jack Thompson is a fucking douche."

But Thompson claims Facebook has allowed more insidious material to remain on the website, such as the user group "Jack Thompson should be smacked across the face with an Atari 2600" and another that offers $50 to anyone who punches the former attorney in the face. The latter group has apparently been removed from Facebook since the filing.

Pac-Man compelled them to do it

Thompson claims that on August 27 he sent a fax marked "URGENT" to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, demanding all such postings be removed. That missive was ignored by the executive, according to the complaint, as were two more faxes he sent 11 days later.

Thompson compares his treatment with that of US President Barack Obama. He notes a recent anonymous Facebook poll asking if the country's commander-in-chief should be assassinated was removed from the social website as soon as the company found out about it. Facebook said it's investigating the case with the US Secret Service.

"Unlike our President, Thompson does not have the Secret Service to protect him," the ex-attorney writes in his complaint.

He claims the Obama event demonstrated that Facebook can and does act quickly when a "person who is politically correct" is targeted on the website. "But Facebook's CEO, Mr. Zuckerberg, who was sent and received all three of Thompson's requests for help, conveniently ignores the safety of the undersigned because he does not matter to Mr. Zuckerberg and his successful commercial enterprise," he claims.

His complaint also goes on – at length – to allege unrelated harassment and threats he claims are "orchestrated by the violent video game industry and by video gamers." He accuses the gaming blog GamePolitics.com of actively working with Take-Two lawyers to encourage readers to libel him, and calls the popular gaming web comic Penny Arcade a "video game industry operative" that sent people to Thompson's residential neighborhood to go door-to-door telling his neighbors that he "wanted to repeal the United States Constitution."

Thompson alleges that by allowing similar harassment to remain on Facebook despite his take-down faxes, the company has caused him "great harm and distress, as well as a heightened risk to his personal safety." He seeks at least $120m in damages based charges of negligent infliction of emotion distress, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent supervision.

Although websites aren't liable for user-submitted material in the US as long as they act swiftly to take it down once they're informed of its existence, Thompson claims his previous demands make Facebook responsible.

A copy of the lawsuit can be found here. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.