CDA Section 230 Protects MySpace Against Negligence Claim

Given all the commentary that greeted the filing of the complaint in Doe v. MySpace, Inc. last year, it’s a little odd how quietly the district court’s dismissal of the case this week has been greeted. (The court’s opinion is available as a scanned PDF here, and my possibly typo-laden transcription is on Wikisource.) Score Round 1 in the debate over the reach of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (47 U.S.C. § 230) to cyberprof (and blogger) Eric Goldman, who correctly predicted that MySpace would escape liability under the CDA. The court agreed that the plaintiffs were essentially seeking to penalize MySpace for the actions of its users, which under the CDA it has no duty to police.

The policy debate over whether online fora such as social networking sites ought to do more to protect users, particularly underage users, from the consequences of their ill-chosen actions online will no doubt continue; whatever one’s opinion about the proper sweep of the CDA, the facts of the Doe case are fairly wrenching — the stuff of which grandstanding legislative hearings are made. Stay tuned for subsequent chapters of what is sure to become a lengthy book.

4 Responses to “CDA Section 230 Protects MySpace Against Negligence Claim”

  1. MySpace Suit for Liability for Sexual Assault Dismissed…

    By John Ottaviani Doe v. MySpace, Inc., No. A-06-CA983-SS (W.D. Tex. 2/13/2007). “If anyone had a duty to protect Julie……

  2. [...] One of the more interesting pieces in the most recent Harvard Journal of Law and Technology is “Wikimmunity,” by recent Harvard Law grad (and friend of Berkman) Ken Myers. Ken’s article, explores how Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (also the subject of my recent Doe v. MySpace post) acts, or should act, to protect sites like Wikipedia against third-party liability for defamatory or disparaging posts by their users. This topic was also the subject of a panel discussion at last summer’s Wikimania 2006 conference. [...]

  3. I’ve been in this niche along time as a web master and try as parents and others might to put the blame on Myspace the fact is most parents do not monitor what their kids are doing (aka lazy parents). When something does go wrong they are quick to blame Myspace instead of themselves. Myspace has 65 million members they can’t possibly monitor all of them 24/7.

  4. [...] Assuming the apartment was not, in fact, “moldy,” I think the law may well be on Horizon’s side here. Bonnen’s Twitter stream was public, and a false statement that harms a business can be judged “defamation per se,” meaning that the plaintiff does not need to prove the details of damages. It’s another lesson that social media make many of our previously private conversations public, with potentially serious consequences. (Twitter, of course, is protected from the suit under Section 230.) [...]