Keep up with the latest developments and legal issues in the telecommunications and emerging technology sectors, with exclusive access to a comprehensive collection of telecommunications law news,...
Twitter Inc., Facebook Inc., and Alphabet Inc.'s Google escaped claims alleging that they allowed Hamas to use their sites for spreading propaganda, continuing their winning streak in legal battles over content.
Plaintiffs Demetrick Pennie and Rick Zamarripa sued the three companies after five police officers were killed in a 2016 mass shooting in Dallas. They alleged the companies provided material support to Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic political party that has an armed wing, in violation of the federal Anti-Terrorism Act.
The plaintiffs failed to show a connection between the companies’ alleged conduct and the shooting, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California held Dec. 4. In addition, a federal online publisher law grants the companies immunity from most, if not all, conduct at issue, the court said. It dismissed the complaint without granting leave to amend.
The case shows the consistency with which courts are applying the internet liability law to shield online publishers—even in highly charged issues. The decision marks the fourth dismissal of complaints this year alleging social media provided services to terrorist groups, Bloomberg Law data show. Ten cases alleging at least one of the three platforms provided material support to terrorism remain active, the data show.
Keith L. Altman, attorney for the plaintiffs and lead counsel at Excolo Law PLLC, told Bloomberg Law Dec. 5 that he intends to appeal the decision. “We expect these issues are so big that they’re not going to get resolved at the trial court level,” he said.
The court said that the plaintiffs’ claims seek to hold the companies liable for content created by others. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act immunizes websites from such claims. The court rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that the claims don’t depend on the content of the posts but, rather, on the companies’ business of providing online publishing services.
“Plaintiffs explicitly base their claims on the content that Hamas allegedly posts, because absent offending content, there would be no basis for even the frivolous causal connection that Plaintiffs have alleged between Defendants’ services and the Dallas attack,” the court said.
The plaintiffs also asserted that the companies are content creators and fall outside of Section 230 immunity because they place ads next to content created by Hamas. But the court rejected the argument. The court cited its decision in Gonzalez v. Google Inc. , which held that the plaintiffs in that case failed to allege Google’s targeted advertising tools encouraged the posting of unlawful material.
The court declined to address whether Section 230 protected the companies from allegations that it shared advertising revenue with Hamas.
The case is Pennie v. Twitter Inc. , N.D. Cal., No. 17-cv-00230-JCS, 12/4/17 .
To contact the reporter on this story: Alexis Kramer in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at email@example.com
Full text at http://src.bna.com/uH2.
Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)