Facebook’s news algorithm has long been at the center of debate about some of Meta’s biggest problems. It’s also an almost constant source of user complaints. But if the newly filed lawsuit is successful, Facebook users may be able to use the social network with a very different feed. The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University Meta on behalf of a researcher who wants to release a browser extension that would allow people to “effectively turn off” their algorithmic feeds.

The extension was created by Ethan Zuckerman, a researcher and professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He argued that Facebook users would be better off with more control over their feeds. “The tool, called Unfollow Everything 2.0, will allow users to unfollow their friends, groups, and pages, effectively turning off their news feed — the endless scrolling of posts that users see when they log into Facebook,” the lawsuit . “Users who download the tool will be free to use the platform without the feed, or curate the feed by refollowing only those friends and groups whose posts they really want to see.” (Meta has officially renamed News Feed to “Feed.”)

Zuckerman is not the first to propose such a tool. It was inspired by a similar project, also called “Unfollow Everything”, from 2021 Facebook sued the UK man who created this extension and his account. Zuckerman is trying to avoid a similar fate with his lawsuit. The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco federal court on Wednesday, asks the court to “recognize that Section 230 protects the development of tools designed to empower people to better control their social media.”

The case could be a new test of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which is best known as the law holding online platforms legally liable for the actions of their users. But unlike recent Supreme Court rulings involving the statute, Zuckerman’s case “relies on a separate provision protecting third-party developers of tools that allow people to control what they see online, including by blocking content they deem objectionable “.

A Meta spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit. The company has a history of cruel tactics when it comes to independent researchers. In addition to shutting down the earlier version of Do Not Follow All, the company disabled the Facebook accounts of a group trying to study political ad targeting in 2021. These types of tactics have led some researchers to pursue “data donation” programs ‘, which recruit volunteers to ‘donate’ their own browsing data for academic research.

If released, Zuckerman’s browser extension will also have a data donation component, allowing users to opt in to share “anonymized data about their Facebook usage.” The data will then be used to study the effects of Facebook’s feed algorithm.