Section 230 protected Twitter from liability for deleting Senate candidate’s accounts

Plaintiff (an Arizona senate candidate) sued Twitter after it suspended four of plaintiff’s accounts. He brought claims for (1) violation of the First Amendment; (2) violation of federal election law; (3) breach of contract; (4) conversion, (5) antitrust; (6) negligent infliction of emotional distress; (7) tortious interference; and (8) promissory estoppel.

Twitter moved to dismiss on multiple grounds, including that Section 230(c)(1) of the Communications Decency Act (“CDA”), 47 U.S.C. § 230, rendered it immune from liability for each of plaintiff’s claims that sought to treat it as a publisher of third-party content.

The CDA protects from liability (1) any provider of an interactive computer service (2) whom a plaintiff seeks to treat as a publisher or speaker (3) of information provided by another information content provider.

The court granted the motion to dismiss, on Section 230 grounds, all of the claims except the antitrust claim (which it dismissed for other reasons). It held that Twitter is a provider of an interactive computer service. And plaintiff sought to treat Twitter as a publisher or speaker by trying to pin liability on it for deleting accounts, which is a quintessential activity of a publisher. The deleted accounts were comprised of information provided by another information content provider (i.e., not Twitter, but plaintiff himself).

Brittain v. Twitter, 2019 WL 2423375 (N.D. Cal. June 10, 2019)

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