Judge Clamps Down on Facebook Postings in McDonald's Halal Controversy
February 13th, 2013, 6:00 AM
Has a Wayne County judge gone too far in clamping down on Facebook?
The Detroit Free Press reports the First Amendment issue has popped up in a $700,000 court settlement a McDonald's in Dearborn reached over allegations it sometimes sold non-halal meat that was advertised as being halal.
Judge Kathleen Macdonald (not to be confused with McDonald's) has ordered Dearborn attorney Majed Moughni to remove all references to the matter from a Facebook page he created, which has become a quasi news site for the Dearborn community, Niraj Warikoo of the Detroit Free Press reports. The page gets more than 20,000 views per week.
Moughni criticized the settlement on Facebook, characterizing it as a backroom deal, the Freep reported.
The judge barred Moughni from discussing the settlement, reached last month, with anyone who might be affected and ordered him to replace his posts, which have been critical, with copies of the settlement.
Moughni also was ordered to forward the names and contact information of anyone who commented on the case or "Liked" a post on it.
Thursday's order by Wayne County Circuit Judge Kathleen Macdonald has sparked concern among some Dearborn residents and free-speech advocates who say it clamped down on a popular site many use for news and to express their views. They expressed concern that McDonald's and the plaintiff's attorneys are trying to stop people from criticizing the settlement.
The Free Press reports attorneys who settled the case with McDonald's asked the judge to take the action prevent false and misleading statements from getting into the public domain.
The Freep reports that the tentative settlement calls about $425,000 to go to a Muslim clinic, an Arab American Museum and the lead plaintiff. Most of the remaining money would go for attorney fees.
The Free reports that critics though the money should have gone to observant Muslims who were duped by the false claims about the meat.