NEW ORLEANS (CN) – MySpace is immune from a lawsuit accusing it of failing to protect a teen girl from the alleged sexual assault of a 19-year-old man she met on the popular social-networking site, the 5th Circuit ruled.
A three-judge panel upheld a Texas judge’s dismissal of a lawsuit accusing MySpace.com and parent company News Corp. of failing to protect minor users from sexual predators.
The plaintiff, identified as Julie Doe, created a MySpace profile when she was only 13, but said she was 18 to circumvent the site’s minimum age requirement of 14. After she turned 14, she met Pete Solis, a 19-year-old fellow MySpace user who allegedly sexually assaulted her in a parking lot in 2006.
A federal judge threw out a lawsuit filed by the teen and her mother, ruling that their claims are barred by Texas common law and the Communications Decency Act, which shields Internet service providers from getting sued for publishing material posted by third parties.
Doe and her mother appealed dismissal of their negligence claim, arguing that MySpace is not a “publisher” under their claims, and that MySpace is not entitled to immunity for its failure to take reasonable steps to protect minors.
Judge Clement, writing for the appellate panel, remained unconvinced.
“Their allegations are merely another way of claiming that MySpace was liable for publishing the communications and they speak to MySpace’s role as a publisher of online third-party-generated content.”
Solis was indicted on a sexual assault charge and faces up to 20 years in prison.