Interessante sentenza dagli USA sulla chiusura immotivata da parte di Facebook dell’account di un’utente

Si tratta della corte del nord california 12 noiv. 2021, 21cv04573EMC , King v-. Facebbok (dal blog di Eric Goldman).

Il provveidmento interessa, dato che la chiusura immotivata di account FB pare non sia così rara.

L’attrice avanza varie domande (una basata sul § 230.c.2.A CDA : incomprensibile, visto che , la disposizione esime da responsabilità anzichè comminarla!, p. 4 segg.)

Qui ricordo la domanda sub E, p. 10 ss basata sulla violazione contrattuale ex fide bona e correttezza.

Rigettata quella sulla distruzione di contenuto (sub 1: non condivisibelmente però: se manca obbligo specifico per F. di conservare, quanto meno la buona fede impone di dare congruo preavviso della prossima distruzione), viene accolta quella sulla mancanza di motivazione,. sub 2, p. 12 ss

F. si basa sulla pattuita clausola <<If we determine that you have clearly, seriously or repeatedly breached our Terms or Policies, including in particular our Community Standards, we may suspend or permanently disable access to your account.>> per affermare che aveva piena discrezionalità

Il giudice ha buon gioco però nel dire che non è così: <<Notably, the Terms of Service did not include language providing that Facebook had “sole discretion” to act.  Compare, e.g., Chen v. PayPal, Inc., 61 Cal. App. 5th 559, 570-71 (2021) (noting that contract provisions allowed “PayPal to place a hold on a payment or on a certain amount in a seller’s account when it ‘believes there may be a high level of risk’ associated with a transaction or the account[,] [a]nd per the express terms of the contract, it may do so ‘at its sole discretion’”; although plaintiffs alleged that “‘there was never any high level of risk associated with any of the accounts of any’ appellants, . . . this ignores that the user agreement makes the decision to place a hold PayPal’s decision – and PayPal’s alone”). 

Moreover, by providing a standard by which to evaluate whether an account should be disabled, the Terms of Service suggest that Facebook’s discretion to disable an account is to be guided by the articulated factors and cannot be entirely arbitrary.  Cf. Block v. Cmty. Nutrition Ins., 467 U.S. 340, 349, 351 (1984) (stating that the “presumption favoring judicial review of administrative action . . . may be overcome by specific language or specific legislative history that is a reliable indicator of congressional intent” – i.e., “whenever the congressional intent to preclude judicial review is ‘fairly discernible in the statutory scheme’”). 

At the very least, there is a strong argument that the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing imposes ome limitation on the exercise of discretion so as to not entirely eviscerate users’ rights>>

Inoltre (sub 3, p. 14) quanto meot una spiegazione era dovuta. (i passaggi sub 2 e il 3 si sovrappontgono)

In breve sono ritenute illegittime la disbilitgazione e la mancanza di motivazione (che si soprappongono, come appena detto: la reciproca distinzione concettuale richiederebbe troppo spazio e tempo)

Da ultimo, l’ovvia eccezione di safe harbour ex § 230.c.1 CDA <Treatment of publisher or speaker> copre la disabilitazione ma non la mancata spiegazione (p. 22).

Sul secondo punto c’è poco da discutere: il giudice ha ragione.

Più difficile rispondere sul primo,  importante nella pratica, dato che qualunque disabilitazione costituirà -dal punto del disabilitato- una violazione di contratto.

Il giudice dà ragione a F.: il fatto che esista un patto, non toglie a F. il safe harbour : <<although Ms. King’s position is not without any merit, she has glossed over the nature of the “promise” that Facebook made in its Terms of Service. In the Terms of Service, Facebook simply stated that it would use its discretion to determine whether an account should be disabled based on certain standards. The Court is not convinced that Facebook’s statement that it would exercise its publishing discretion constitutes a waiver of the CDA immunity based on publishing discretion. In other words, all that Facebook did here was to incorporate into the contract (the Terms of Service) its right to act as a publisher. This by itself is not enough to take Facebook outside of the protection the CDA gives to “‘paradigmatic editorial decisions not to publish particular content.’” Murphy, 60 Cal. App. 5th at 29. Unlike the very specific one-time promise made in Barnes, the promise relied upon here is indistinguishable from “‘paradigmatic editorial decisions not to publish particular content.’” Id. It makes little sense from the perspective of policy underpinning the CDA to strip Facebook of otherwise applicable CDA immunity simply because Facebook stated its discretion as a publisher in its Terms of Service>>.

Decisione forse esatta sul punto specifico, ma servirebbe analisi ulteriore.

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