Section 230 Doesn’t Protect Email Forwarding of Screenshotted Tweets?–Maxfield v. Maxfield

3 06 2016

This case is a spinout ancillary lawsuit from the main divorce proceedings between the parties, and neither party was represented by a lawyer in this case. Given those attributes, this case may not be good precedent, but I’m blogging it anyway because of its topicality.

At issue are the following tweets, now apparently offline, made through a pseudonymous Twitter account @AvaAlex1:

(1) “@kristencusato and he’s got more than one STD# guess where that came from?# ”;
(2) “@kristencusato if you want to meet in person to discuss more I’d be happy to do so. let me know# ”;
(3) “@kristancusato he’s a loser, don’t be a loser too. don’t walk-run. If you stay w/him you’ll only look stupid# ”;
(4) “@kristencusato he lies, he deceives, why do you think he’s on his 2nd divorce, you deserve better. don’t be fooled by his charm# ”;
(5) “@kristencusato # jim maxfield is charming but a player. He’ll dump u as soon he’s on to his new conquest. A narcissist. ur2smart4that.”

We don’t know who’s behind AvaAlex1, but James thinks it may be his ex-wife Rosemary or someone working with her. We also don’t know what happened between James and Kristen Cusato, but the case says James is now married to a different woman, Lara Gold.

Unhappy about the tweets, James screenshotted the offending tweets and emailed it to Rosemary, asking her to delete them. Rosemary forwarded the screenshot to Lara and the guardian ad litem representing their children in the divorce proceeding. James then sued Rosemary for defamation.

Rosemary defended on Section 230 grounds. The court applies Vazquez v. Buhl, which I believe is binding precedent on this court. The Vazquez court dealt with slightly different facts–in that case, the defendant posted links to allegedly defamatory content rather than forwarding a screenshot–but the next result ought to be the same. If it’s third party content, Section 230 doesn’t care how the content is delivered.


Case citation: Maxfield v. Maxfield, 2015 WL 9809777 (Conn. Superior Ct. Dec. 18, 2015)

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