Court: Judge wrong to dismiss complaint against Facebook

CONCORD (AP) – The New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled on Friday that a judge was wrong to dismiss a cafe owner’s complaint against Facebook that said his social media account was shut down without warning.

Emmett Soldati had marketed his Teatotaller cafe in Somersworth on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.

He has used the cafe and its social media accounts to support social rights and acceptance, describing the business as a “hipster oasis”.

The Instagram account was shut down in 2018; Facebook did not offer an explanation and argued for a dismissal of Soldati’s complaint, which sought restoration of the account. Facebook said it was immune from such claims under the federal Communications Decency Act.

A judge in small claims court had found in favour of Facebook. Soldati, who doesn’t have a law degree but is the son of a former prosecutor, represented himself during oral arguments before the court earlier this year.

“Today the New Hampshire Supreme Court sent a strong message that users of large social media platforms have rights that cannot be ignored or trampled – and the claims against these global tech monopolies cannot be shielded by appealing to vague federal statutes,” Soldati said in a statement. “Facebook does not have absolute immunity. Today is a win for all those people who have felt helpless against the abuse of power of Big Tech.”

A spokesperson for Facebook said in an email the company wasn’t commenting on the case.

The state supreme court said that Soldati has “sufficiently alleged a claim for breach of contract” under the terms of use and state law.