Monday, August 04, 2014

Revenge porn problem is colliding with Section 230, as is mid-East conflict


Over the years, the “conservative” DC area newspaper “The Washington Times” (I am always reminded of the San Jose Mercury News and maybe even the New York Daily News) has covered tricky free speech and liability issues (back to a famous editorial in October, 2005, “Suffocating the First Amendment) tirelessly, and today, Monday, Aug. 4, Meghan Drake reports “Woman sues Facebook for ex’s ‘revenge porn’ posting”, link here. The article explains the limitations on the woman’s response because of Section 230 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act (a portion of which was the “Communications Decency Act” struck down in 1997, about the time I published my own first book and soon started putting it online). 
  
The case involves a lawsuit against Facebook by Meryem Ali regarding its apparently sluggish response to removing an “imposter site” put up by an “ex-friend” Adeel Shah Khan. 
  
It is certainly correct to say that Facebook’s own TOS would prohibit imposter sites (or intentional humiliation of others), but Section 230 would limit its legal downstream liability. The article gets into little known breach of contract provisions associated with Section 230, apparently as explained by Georgetown Law Professor Rebecca Tushnet.  I don’t see how the points about IIED (intentional infliction of emotional distress) could be relevant, because a service provider couldn’t knowingly be party to it.
  
There is a “Pop Quiz” on p. 29 of the Education Life insert in the New York Times Sunday Aug. 3, where Susan Crawford, professor of law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University answers a hypothetical case where it takes Facbook two weeks to remove a libelous post or fake profile and says that Section 230 will protect Facebook.  The relevant case is Klayman v. Zuckerberg, 2014.  The Federal Circuit dismissed an appeal of this case in June 2014 (link).  The original opinion was issued in December 2012 here.

In fact, the practicalities of the Klayman case are disturbing, as discussed in Techcruch by Robin Walters in April 2011, here. Apparently the posting had dealt with a call for a third intifada against Israel’s (Jewish) population. Given what’s going on with Israel and Hamas now, it seems like a sensitive issue to bring up.  But it popped up in researching Crawford’s little piece (not yet online).     


Post Script:
 

I put the Washington Times link on Twitter, which forwarded to Facebook.  On Facebook, the story headline and illustration got replaced by a "403 Forbidden".  TWT apparently doesn't allow social media or Facebook to embed its logos and stories.  But the link itself still works from Facebook. It seems rather silly on the part of TWT.  

2 comments:

Steve Finnell said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bill Boushka said...

I removed this comment because I did not get a customary email notification, but got a bizarre message in my spam folder, which I will explain later on the Internet Safety blog. The comment was "religious" in tone. This one had gotten past Blogger spam controls. I do agree that a practicing Christian wouldn't put up "revenge porn" -- so there is at least that much relevance.