Klayman Loses Appeal on Facebook Intifada Page
(CN) - Facebook need not face a federal lawsuit over its delayed removal of a page that encouraged a third Palestinian Intifada, the D.C. Circuit ruled.
Larry Klayman, the conservative activist behind defamation and conspiracy complaints across the country, took aim at Facebook three years ago when he came across a group called "Third Palestinian Intifada" with more than 360,000 members, which exhorted Muslims to kill Jews.
Facebook removed the page from its website when Israel's Minister for Public Diplomacy wrote a letter to the company, but not soon enough for Klayman, who claimed in court that Facebook's delay in taking down the page constituted intentional assault and negligence.
He said that the Intifada page "amount[ed] to a threat of the use of force against non-Muslims, and particularly Jews," causing him "reasonable apprehension of severe bodily harm and/or death."
But the D.C. Circuit affirmed dismissal of the case Friday because, "even under a generous reading of the complaint, the Communications Decency Act forbids this suit."
The Communications Decency Act provides that "no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider," according to the ruling.
Facebook's statement of rights and responsibilities also advises users that it does its "best to keep Facebook safe, but we cannot guarantee it," and that "we are providing Facebook 'as is' without any express or implied warranties."
"Klayman does not seriously dispute that Facebook meets the statutory definition of an interactive computer service, or that Zuckerberg, as a matter of statutory text, provides such a service," Judge Patricia Millett wrote for a three-judge panel.
There also no dispute that Facebook users, not Facebook, created the Intifada page and its offensive content.
Klayman claimed that a "special relationship" exists between Facebook and its users.
But "to the extent that Klayman means that [a] statement allocating rights and responsibilities between interactive computer services and their users by itself gives rise to a heightened state-law duty of care in publishing, that argument fails," Millett said.
"State law cannot predicate liability for publishing decisions on the mere existence of the very relationship that Congress immunized from suit. In other words, simply invoking the label 'special relationship' cannot transform an admittedly waived contract claim into a non-preempted tort action," she added.