Plaintiff sued Facebook and several media companies (including CNN, PBS and NPR) after Facebook suspended his account for alleged spamming. Plaintiff had posted articles and comments in an effort to “set the record straight” regarding Kellyanne Conway’s comments on the “Bowling Green Massacre”. Plaintiff claimed, among other things, that Facebook and the other defendants violated the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

The court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. It observed the well-established principle that these provisions of the constitution only apply to governmental actors – and do not apply to private parties. Facebook and the other media defendants could not plausibly be considered governmental actors.

It also noted that efforts to apply the First Amendment to Facebook have consistently failed. See, for example, Forbes v. Facebook, Inc., 2016 WL 676396, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 18, 2016) (finding that Facebook is not a state actor for Section 1983 First Amendment claim); and Young v. Facebook, Inc., 2010 WL 4269304, at *3 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 25, 2010) (holding that Facebook is not a state actor).

Shulman v. Facebook et al., 2017 WL 5129885 (D.N.J., November 6, 2017)

About the Author: Evan Brown is a Chicago technology and intellectual property attorney. Call Evan at (630) 362-7237, send email to ebrown [at], or follow him on Twitter @internetcases. Read Evan’s other blog, UDRP Tracker, for information about domain name disputes.