On July 29, 2009, three plaintiffs filed suit in the Supreme Court of New York County, New York against a number of individual defendants (both known and unknown), website hosting company GoDaddy.com, micro-blogging site Twitter.com, and blog tool and publishing platform Wordpress.com. The suit alleges that the individual defendants published defamatory statements about the plaintiffs (alleging their involvement in criminal conduct and corruption) on websites hosted by GoDaddy and Wordpress. The same statements were also allegedly published via Twitter.
Late last year, I had the opportunity to carefully review all of the civil cases interpreting the limitations of the immunity afforded by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The simple rule emerging from those cases is clear: If the “essential published content” is willingly provided by a third-party, the interactive computer service provider publishing that content enjoys the full immunity afforded by Section 230. (See FAQ: What is Section 230? & Craigslist Sues South Carolina Attorney General to Avoid Criminal Charges Against the Site and its Executives). The broad immunity afforded by Section 230 should result in a quick dismissal of the claims against GoDaddy, Twitter, and Wordpress.
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