Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Suit Challenging Social Media Policing of Anti-Islamist Posts Is Dismissed

In American Freedom Defense Initiative v. Lynch, (D DC, Nov. 9, 2016), the DC. federal district court dismissed a suit against the federal government by two anti-Islamist organizations and their leaders, including well-known activist Pamela Geller.  The groups complain that Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have repeatedly removed their postings.  They sue the U.S. Attorney General seeking a declaratory judgment that Sec. 230 of the Communications Decency Act is unconstitutional.  That section protects social media sites from liability for policing content to remove objectionable material.  Plaintiffs contend that if Sec. 230 were held unconstitutional, the sites would no longer censor their posts.  The court dismissed for lack of standing, holding that any impact of a declaratory judgment here is speculative, and at most would only indirectly affect the behavior of social media companies.