Can The First Amendment Harness Facebook?

Let me put my cards out on the table: I represent Alex Jones and Infowars. I despise efforts to silence him because his speech discomfits the self-righteous. And I regard Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg as clear and present dangers to the right to speak freely.

            If any of this offends you, move on.

            If you’re interested in helping to conceptualize litigation against Facebook, read on.

            Last week, Facebook “de-platformed” Jones and Infowars, and several others. The social media behemoth promised to do likewise to anyone who republished Jones and others on their site.


            Jones and others engage in “hate speech” that violates Facebook’s “community standards” policy. Just what that standard consists of is a secret. Just how it is administered is confidential. Even the identity of the censors is something we can’t know. Is it hate speech to decry Facebook?

            Facebook is not the government, you see. It is a proprietary entity; Zuckerberg has a controlling interest in the firm. His word is law; his preferences define the universe on display on Facebook.

            If the government did what Facebook has done, the actions would be defeated easily in any court in the land. The first amendment prohibits almost all content-based restrictions on speech. You can’t be silenced by the government if someone in the government hates what you say.

            But what if Facebook is more powerful than the government? The courts have already held Facebook and social media are the “quintessential public forum.” Sure folks are free to start their own social media company, but let’s face it – Facebook has something of a monopoly on this ubiquitous and insidious means of communication. Just ask the 2.2 billion users who spend hours each day on the page, pathetically hoping someone will “like” their posts.

            Facebook is not an innocent bystander. It harvests data from each user it invites to its electronic playpen -- what you look at, who your "friends" are, how long you look at each item, where else you travel on the Internet. It employs teams of social psychologists to figure out how to get you hooked – and keep you hooked. Observers talk of “hijacked brains.” 

            You can sign on to Facebook any time you like, and participate for free, but your data never leaves Facebook’s computers. It is aggregated, analyzed, bundled and sold to others so that you can be manipulated to do things and to buy things. Facebook is a parasite, growing wealthy off of your need to connect, a need it obsessively studies, the better to predict your every move.

            Do I sound fanciful? Don’t believe me. Read Shoshanna Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. She lays out the evidence persuasively. She refers to Facebook, Google and Amazon as Big Other, the new digital overlords that are seeking to make B.F. Skinner’s dream come true: we can connect all the random dots that make us who we are. Artificial intelligence can find the hidden patterns, the causes, that we mistake for freedom.

            There’s a reason social media executives try to keep their kids from consuming too much of the product.

            Who holds Facebook accountable?

            No one. That’s who.

            I’m encouraged by the United States Supreme Court’s decision today to permit an antitrust suit to proceed against Apple for its monopolization of Apps. Are the courts waking up to the fact that the digital Goliath in our midst is trampling on the law and settled expectations?

            What about a suit against Facebook seeking to make new law, new First Amendment law? The entity controls a quintessential public forum. It bans speakers from participating for secret proprietary reasons administered in clandestine ways. Its superior capital yields a monopoly of this forum. It does all this while profiting from the folks who use the forum. What started as a college bulletin board has become big brother.

            I’m looking at the case law and seeing nothing but obstacles in the law’s settled doctrine. But it may well be that the time has come to extend existing law. Facebook has become something akin to a government. It decides whom to cooperate with and how much cooperation to give: Did you know that Facebook will provide information to the government if subpoenaed but will not do likewise when a defense lawyer requests it? Facebook and the government’s surveillance machinery seem intertwined.

            At the very least, a lawsuit against Facebook will shed light on what is rapidly becoming a virulent tumor. Today it’s Alex Jones. Who’s next?

            Alex Jones doesn’t worry me. I’ve spent enough time with him to understand it is not hate that drives him, but fear of what is becoming of this country.  Alex Jones is a scapegoat for the weak at heart.

            Mark Zuckerberg, on the other hand, terrifies me. There’s a reason Facebook spends in excess of $20 million a year on Zuckerberg’s security. He is the most dangerous man in America. The challenge just now is to see whether the law can stop him. I’m aching to give it a try.


Alex Jones Speaks Out

Editor's Note:  The New York Times, Boston Globe and Wall Street Journal won't publish this piece by my client, Alex Jones. Yet they will run material critical of him. And now Facebook has decided Alex is too dangerous to print. Gutless cowards all. Here's a piece Alex wrote that the mainstream media won't run. Why?

Alex Jones The Piece The Media Won't Print 

By Alex Jones

You know my name. I’m Alex Jones, owner of InfoWars. People love to hate me, yet I have millions of listeners and viewers.

I’m called a conspiracy theorist. I’ve been sued in various courts for the things I’ve said, believed and permitted others to say on my radio and television shows. I’ve even been sued for things I never said or did – I defy the world to prove I ever sent anyone to torment the grieving family of a victim of a mass shooting.

I’ve been de-platformed from social media – PayPal, Facebook, Apple and Twitter have banned me. Folks who hate what I have to say have banded together to persuade platforms to deny me access, all in an effort to silence my voice.

You Tube was the first to try to block me from the Internet, in February 2018. I was falsely accused of saying no one died at the Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, and that crisis actors faked the deaths. When I showed YouTube that all I really said is that there was a delayed law enforcement response, YouTube relented, and let me return.

The campaign of hate, harassment and distortion continued – fueled by a campaign of lies and half-truths. By August, 2018, I was banned again in a censorship jihad led by Tim Cook and Apple. Hate won a pyrrhic victory over free expression. The censors took a guillotine to freedom of speech.

But I won’t be silenced; neither will the millions of fearful Americans looking for a voice. You do recall the 2016 election, don’t you? Brace yourself for 2020.

I’m tired of seeing isolated memes or edited snippets from selected court documents or my shows used as propaganda. Social justice warriors play a game of telephone with every word I say, sifting, repeating and distorting things until half-truths are repeated as the whole truth. I won’t repeat the words the left tries to stuff down my throat.

I’ve been made into an archetypical villain, criminal, scoundrel. My identity has been stolen by the self-righteous. You don’t hear my voice any longer; you hear the hatred in which I am draped.

Who am I?

Am I a white supremacist? No. A sexist? No. But neither am I ashamed of my skin. You call “toxic masculinity.” I cry foul. You demand reparations. I say it is a race-pandering scam. All of us are sinners in need of grace.

I still believe in America, although what I believe in is disappearing. I’ll look any man in the eye and shake his hand. Be fair to me, and I’ll return the courtesy. Shake me down, and I’ll come out swinging. I still like John Wayne movies. My bad. 

Am I a nationalist? I suppose so. I love this country, this nation, and I am proud to say so. I got mad when I saw Barack Obama apologize for our role in the world; I stand with President Trump when he says America first.

It hurts when I see gun-control lobbyists swarm to every mass shooting, looking to transform grieving survivors and families into symbols used to dilute the Second Amendment, transforming grief-struck parents into crisis actors. Pathos isn’t principle.

I get angry when I see that happen. And I say something about it. Bottom line: I am a libertarian. I don’t trust the government. I don’t trust banks. I don’t trust mainstream media. And I believe that there are powerful individuals – I call them the deep state – who seek to influence and to control events in this country. Am I a conspiracy theorist? Then so are you; that’s why you’re waiting to read the Mueller Report.

I stand with William Jennings Bryant and a long and proud tradition of angry populism.

And even if the demonic version of me were true, I remain Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men. I’m the guy who stands at the frontier dividing the life we take for granted from the chaos the lies just beneath the surface. The truth is you need me on that wall. We’re a heartbeat from disaster, and my listeners and viewers know it. That’s why they tune in, and that’s why they contribute to InfoWars, supporting us even after advertisers have been diverted away by dams of fear.


Yep. You see there’s a whole forgotten continent in fly-over country, the land between the slivers of prosperity on the coasts. My listeners and viewers know a thing or two about America. They’re scared, too. They’re afraid that American prosperity is over, and that global elites would rather congratulate one another on their good fortune in Davos, Switzerland, than spend any time in Des Moines or Detroit or Duluth.

We’re close to the breaking point in this country. Everyone knows it. That’s why there’s an epidemic of opiod abuse and suicide rates are on the rise. Healthy people do not self-destruct.

The truth is the first amendment is up for grabs. You hate what I say? Silencing me in the name of your hate make you the very thing you say needs to be silenced. Are you ready to give up the right to speak freely?

I’ve decided to fight back. That’s why I created InfoWars, a truly independent entity that will listen to any voice, and challenge any power with facts, opinion and ridicule.

I’m as American as apple pie; my censors are the worm in the apple. And, yes, I hate the worm. That’s why I will keep fighting, and why I will keep speaking. Call me a patriotic fool, but I believe in the first amendment. Don’t you?




About Norm Pattis

Norm Pattis is a Connecticut based trial lawyer focused on high stakes criminal cases and civil right violations. He is a veteran of more than 100 jury trials, many resulting in acquittals for people charged with serious crimes, multi-million dollar civil rights and discrimination verdicts, and scores of cases favorably settled.

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I believe that the state is a necessary fiction and that failing to combat it is the first step toward tyranny.
– Norm Pattis


Nothing in this blog should be considered legal advice about your case. You need a lawyer who understands the context of your life and situation. What are offered here are merely suggested lines of inquiry you may explore with your lawyer.

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