Court Says Section 230 Shields Twitter From Revenge Porn Bro’s Stupid Lawsuit

16 07 2019

Tim Cushing
Tech Dirt
June 13, 2019
Former revenge porn extortionist and current pro se litigant, Craig Brittain, is one severely-narrowed complaint away from having his lawsuit against Twitter tossed. Brittain sued Twitter over the deletion of several accounts, including those he had whipped up for his Senate run.

The court’s first pass at the lawsuit moved it to California, a venue shift Brittain explicitly agreed to each time he created another alt account. Terms of service say suing Twitter means suing in California, even if you’re an Arizonan Senate hopeful with a closet that contains nothing but skeletons.

Contrary to Brittain’s fervent and litigious belief, there’s nothing illegal about deleting Craig Brittain’s multiple Twitter accounts. Brittain’s lawsuit tried to make it possible by treating Twitter as both a provider and a publisher, depending of which description worked out better for his arguments. The court decides to let Brittain have it both ways — and lose both ways. (h/t Adam Steinbaugh)

As a service provider, Twitter cannot be held liable for third party content. It can also remove accounts without losing this immunity. Since this isn’t about the removal of content, but rather the removal of accounts, Brittain tried to argue Section 230 immunity can’t protect Twitter from this lawsuit because removing accounts (and their content) is an editorial activity. The court points out this has zero effect on Section 230 protections. From the decision [PDF]:

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The content in this post was found at https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20190612/19144342387/court-says-section-230-shields-twitter-revenge-porn-bros-stupid-lawsuit.shtml Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post. and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com

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Section 230 Protects Snapchat from Liability for Cyberbullying–Grossman v. Rockaway Township

4 07 2019

Eric Goldman
Technology & Marketing Law Blog
July 1, 2019

This case involves the heartbreaking suicide of 12 year old Mallory Grossman, driven by offline and online peer bullying that included mean Snapchat messages. (Note: the opinion refers to Mallory as “MG,” but poor redactions reveal her name in the opinion; and her story has been extensively covered by name in New Jersey papers and a newly passed NJ anti-bullying law is named after her). The parents sued the school district and Snapchat. The procedural facts aren’t clearly laid out, but it appears the school district piggybacked on the parents’ claims against Snapchat, essentially pointing at Snapchat as the real wrongdoer instead of itself.

This devolves into a fairly straightforward Section 230 defense win, aided by defense-friendly NJ-area precedents such as Donato v. Moldow, DiMeo v. Max, Obado v. Magedson, and Parker v. Google, Reviewing the applicable complaints, the court says:

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Case citation: Grossman v. Rockaway Twp., 2019 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 1496  (N.J. Superior Ct. June 10, 2019). The initial complaint.

The content in this post was found at https://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2019/07/section-230-protects-snapchat-from-liability-for-cyberbullying-driven-grossman-v-rockaway-township.htm Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post. and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com

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Twitter Isn’t Liable for Impersonation Account–Dehen v. Doe

26 09 2018

Technology & Marketing Law Blog

Eric Goldman

Sept. 24, 2018

Tiffany Dehen is a 2016 alumna of University of San Diego’s law school. Her website declares that she is “a true American and Patriotic Trump Supporter,” and her photo album includes a photo of her smiling with Dinesh D’Souza. She claims that an unidentified person created a “parody” Twitter account that used her photo and posted objectionable content. She reported the account to Twitter and, after a few days, the account was disabled. You can read more about her motivations for filing this lawsuit in an Above the Law interview. Dehen sued several defendants; I’ll focus on Twitter’s liability.

 

Case citation: Dehen v. Doe, 2018 WL 4502336 (S.D. Cal. Sept. 18, 2018). Dehen’s website has an archive of case filings.

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The content in this post was found at https://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2018/09/twitter-isnt-liable-for-impersonation-account-dehen-v-doe.htm Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post. and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com

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In a Divided Opinion, California Supreme Court Squashes End Run around CDA Immunity That Sought to Compel a Non-Party Online Platform to Remove Defamatory Content

2 08 2018

Proskaur

Jeffrey Neuburger
July 31, 2018

In a closely-followed dispute, the California Supreme Court vacated a lower court order, based upon a default judgment in a defamation action, which had directed Yelp, Inc. (“Yelp”), a non-party to the original suit, to take down certain consumer reviews posted on its site. (Hassell v. Bird, No. S235968, 2018 WL 3213933 (Cal. July 2, 2018)).  If the plaintiffs had included Yelp as a defendant in the original suit, such a suit would have likely been barred by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (“CDA” or “CDA Section 230”); instead, the plaintiffs adopted a litigation strategy to bypass such legal immunities.  In refusing to allow plaintiff’s “creative pleading” to avoid the CDA, the outcome was a win for online companies and platforms that host user-generated content (“A Case for the Internet,” declared Yelp).

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The content in this post was found at https://newmedialaw.proskauer.com/2018/07/31/in-a-divided-opinion-california-supreme-court-squashes-end-run-around-cda-immunity-that-sought-to-compel-a-non-party-online-platform-to-remove-defamatory-content/ Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post. and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com.

 

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Recapping a Year’s Worth of Section 230 Cases That Got Stuck in My Blogging Queue

2 08 2018

Technology & Marketing Law Blog


April 30, 2018

[Though most of these rulings are defense-favorable, Congress recently eviscerated Section 230 and isn’t done ruining its greatest online policy masterpiece]

Twitter Defeats Defamation Claim

 

Case citation: Frenken v. Hunter, 2018 WL 1964893 (N.D. Cal. April 26, 2018)

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Section 230 Protects Instagram Link to Defamatory Content

Case citation: Marfione v. Kai USA, 2018 WL 1519042 (W.D. Pa. March 28, 2018)

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No Liability for Cyber-Harassment Attack, Even if the Service Could Have Been Designed Differently

 

Case citation: Herrick v. Grindr LLC, 2018 WL 566457 (SDNY Jan. 25, 2018)

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Section 230 Protects Message Board 

Allnurses runs a message board related to nursing. The plaintiff offers Active Test Prep (ATP), a test prep service for nursing exams. Allnurses users allegedly defamed ATP in message board posts. Allnurses defends on Section 230 grounds, which the court largely accepts. ATP claimed the users were Allnurses’ “agents” but didn’t marshal good evidence to support the assertion. Also, the court says Section 230 applies to claims that Allnurses “ratified and adopted” the user comments. In a footnote, the court says: “ATP argues that Allnurses selectively removed content and ultimately closed the thread—but that is precisely the type of action that the CDA was intended to protect.”

The opinion also addresses what it means to “like” an allegedly defamatory post: “to ‘Like’ something online is not to vouch for its veracity, and certainly not in whole.” See Bland v. Roberts.

ATP also claimed breach of contract for Allnurses’ failure to enforce negative behavioral covenants in the TOS (have you noticed how often plaintiffs are trying this attempted workaround to Section 230?). The court says that Allnurses’ contract formation failed because ATP  “does not allege, and the record does not show, that users must check a box accepting the statement ‘Your participation implies full acceptance with our Terms of Service.’” [Protip: you never want to “imply” anything about your contract terms or formation process.] Furthermore, ATP can’t be a third party beneficiary of the Allnurses/user contract because “by this logic, the entire world is an intended beneficiary of the TOS. That cannot be right.” The promissory estoppel workaround fails because the TOS terms are too indefinite.

Case citationEast Coast Test Prep LLC v. Allnurses.com, Inc., 2018 WL 614732 (D. Minn. Jan. 29, 2018)

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Section 230 Helps Defeat Product Liability Claim

A retractable leash permanently injured the plaintiff’s eye. She bought the leash from an Amazon Marketplace merchant. She sued Amazon for various products liability claims. The court says no. First, the court says Amazon wasn’t the seller of goods in its marketplace. Sorry this passage is so painful, but don’t shoot the messenger:

Like an auctioneer, Amazon is merely a third-party vendor’s “means of marketing,” since third-party vendors—not Amazon—“cho[o]se the products and expose[ ] them for sale by means of” the Marketplace. Because of the enormous number of third-party vendors (and, presumably, the correspondingly enormous number of goods sold by those vendors) Amazon is similarly “not equipped to pass upon the quality of the myriad of products” available on its Marketplace. And because Amazon has “no role in the selection of the goods to be sold,” it also cannot have any “direct impact upon the manufacture of the products” sold by the third-party vendors.

The Amazon Marketplace serves as a sort of newspaper classified ad section, connecting potential consumers with eager sellers in an efficient, modern, streamlined manner. Because subjecting it to strict liability would not further the purposes of § 402A, as revealed by Musser and other Pennsylvania cases, it cannot be liable to the Oberdorfs under a strict products liability theory.

Calling Amazon Marketplace a “classified ad section” is definitely defense-favorable, but it’s a weak analogy that other courts would reject. See Airbnb v. San Francisco. Regarding Section 230, the court says:

Since the Oberdorfs’ claims for strict products liability, misrepresentation, and breach of warranty have all been disposed of supra, this Court need only consider Amazon’s CDA argument with respect to the Oberdorfs’ negligence and negligent undertaking claims. Although the Complaint frames those claims broadly, it is clear from the Oberdorfs’ papers that they are, in fact, attempting to hold Amazon liable for its role in publishing an advertisement for The Furry Group’s product. In other words, the Oberdorfs are attempting to “treat[ Amazon] as the publisher or speaker of…information provided by” The Furry Group.

Uncited cases in this genre include: Inman v. Technicolor, McDonald v. LG (reaching a different conclusion on Section 230), Hinton v. Amazon, and Englert v. Alibaba.

Case citation: Oberdorf v. Amazon.com, Inc., 2017 WL 6527142 (M.D. Pa. Dec. 21, 2017)

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Publicity Rights Claim Preempted by Section 230 in a Court Outside the 9th Circuit

 

Case citation: Parker v. PayPal, 2017 WL 3508759 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 16, 2017)

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The content in this post was found at https://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2018/04/recapping-a-years-worth-of-section-230-cases-that-got-stuck-in-my-blogging-queue.htm  Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post. and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com.

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The California Supreme Court Didn’t Ruin Section 230 (Today)–Hassell v. Bird

25 07 2018

Technology & Marketing Law Blog


July 2, 2018
I previously described the case facts: “A lawyer was unhappy with a Yelp review about her. The lawyer sued the putative author (with dubious service of process), got a default ruling that the review was defamatory along with a removal injunction, and then delivered the injunction to Yelp and demanded removal. Yelp refused to remove the review.” In a shocking development, in 2016, the Court of Appeals upheld the injunction. Today, the California Supreme Court reversed that ruling, seemingly restoring the status quo. Yelp rightly claims it as a win.

However, the long-term implications of this case aren’t entirely clear because the Supreme Court voted 3-1-3:  . . .

Unfortunately, the fractured opinions raise some doubts about the true holding of this case. If the plurality opinion is the law, Section 230 defendants have a lot to celebrate. The plurality opinion strongly endorses Section 230….

The opinion is noteworthy for what it didn’t do. There was no analysis at all of the First Amendment. Due process was discussed, but there was no clear resolution on the applicability of Constitutional due process to this case. The opinions did not come anywhere close to resolving when a non-party can be bound to an injunction, an issue that affects cases far beyond the Internet Law realm. . . .

One of the many unusual aspects of this case is that Yelp didn’t remove the review when presented with the court’s judgment.

Case Citation: Hassell v. Bird, S235968 (Cal. Sup. Ct. July 2, 2018)

[ed’s note: Eric’s subsequent analysis is detailed and insightful. Uses this case to address LOADS of 230 issues. Do note, this is a state supreme court (CA) decision.]

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The content in this post was found at https://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2018/07/the-california-supreme-court-didnt-ruin-section-230-today-hassell-v-bird.htm  Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post. and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com.

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State Appeals Court Tosses Defamation Suit Against Lawyer Who Wrote About Teen Driver Who Injured His Client

17 07 2018

Tech Dirt

Tim Cushing
Thu, Jul 12th 2018

An interesting sidebar to a case we’ve written about previously has surfaced via the ever-attentive Eric Goldman. Last month we covered a lawsuit against Snapchat brought by the victims of an car accident. The victims claim Snapchat is at least partially responsible for the injuries inflicted on Karen Maynard. The driver of the other vehicle, Christal McGee, was allegedly driving at over 100 mph when she hit Maynard’s vehicle. The suit also alleged — based on passenger statements, accident reconstruction, and police reports — McGee was using Snapchat’s “Speed” filter when the accident occurred.

The Georgia state appeals court allowed the case to proceed, but not on Section 230 grounds.

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The content in this post was found at https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20180707/21561340194/state-appeals-court-tosses-defamation-suit-against-lawyer-who-wrote-about-teen-driver-who-injured-his-client.shtml Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post. and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com.

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‘Worst of Both Worlds’ FOSTA Signed Into Law, Completing Section 230’s Evisceration

15 04 2018

Technology & Marketing  Law Blog

Eric Goldman

April 11, 2018

This morning, President Trump signed H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 (FOSTA), into law. The bill signing was anticipated, but that doesn’t make the outcome any less terrible. Today, Washington DC regulators made a major error, one that we’ll likely regret for decades.

Eventually, I plan to write an explainer about the law. In this post, I’ll highlight three developments from the past 2+ weeks since the Senate approved the bill, plus some open questions.

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The content in this post was found at 

https://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2018/04/worst-of-both-worlds-fosta-signed-into-law-completing-section-230s-evisceration.htm Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post. and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com.

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Congress OKs sex trafficking bill that critics say will “censor the Internet”

22 03 2018

Ars Technica

– 3/21/2018, 5:54 PM

The US Senate today passed a bill that weakens legal protections given to websites that host third-party content, saying the measure will help stop promotion of prostitution and sex trafficking on the Internet. But the legislation won’t actually help victims of sex trafficking, and will erode online free speech, critics say.

The Senate passed the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) in a 97-2 vote. Only Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) voted against the bill, which is also known as the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA). It already passed the House of Representatives, and is expected to be signed by President Donald Trump.

The bill changes Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which provides website operators with broad immunity for hosting third-party content. The bill declares that Section 230 “was never intended to provide legal protection to websites that unlawfully promote and facilitate prostitution and websites that facilitate traffickers in advertising the sale of unlawful sex acts with sex trafficking victims.”

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The content in this post was found at https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/03/congress-oks-sex-trafficking-bill-that-critics-say-will-censor-the-internet/

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The Coming Border Wars: U.S. Court Decision Refusing to Enforce Canadian Court Order Highlights the Growing Balkanization of the Internet

22 03 2018

Social Aware blog: law and business of social media

on March 20, 2018

Does a search engine operator have to delist websites hosting, without authorization, your trade secret materials or other intellectual property? The answer may depend on where you sue—just ask Google. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California recently handed the company a victory over plaintiff Equustek Solutions Inc. in what has turned into an international battle where physical borders can have very real consequences on the Internet.

The dispute began when a rival company, Datalink, allegedly misappropriated Equustek’s trade secrets in developing competing products. Equustek also alleged that Datalink misled customers who thought they were buying Equustek products. In 2012, Equustek obtained numerous court orders in Canada against Datalink. Datalink refused to comply, and Canadian court issued an arrest warrant for the primary defendant, who has yet to be apprehended.

In September 2012, Equustek asked Google to delist search results for Datalink; Google declined this request. Equustek then sought a court order against Google in Canada and prevailed, resulting in Google removing 300 Datalink websites from search results generated by the Canadian version of its site, located at www.google.ca. Google, however, did not take similar steps with respect to U.S. and other non-Canadian versions of its site, so the Datalink websites continued to appear in search results conducted by users outside of Canada.

Equustek returned to the Canadian court, this time to seek an order compelling Google to remove the Datalink-related search results globally so that Datalink results would not appear for any Google users, regardless of their location. Equustek once again prevailed, and Google appealed to the Court of Appeal for British Columbia. That court, and later the Supreme Court of Canada, affirmed the trial court’s order.

Google then brought the battle to the United States; in July 2017, it commenced an action in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California seeking a declaratory judgment that the Canadian court order cannot be enforced in the United States and an injunction against the enforcement of such order. (Equustek did not submit an opposition brief.)

In support of its preliminary injunction motion, Google’s primary arguments were that the Canadian order (1) ignores the Communication Decency Act’s immunity for interactive service providers (2) directly conflicts with the First Amendment and (3) violates principles of international comity.

 

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The content in this post was found at https://www.sociallyawareblog.com/2018/03/20/the-coming-border-wars-u-s-court-decision-refusing-to-enforce-canadian-court-order-highlights-the-growing-balkanization-of-the-internet/

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