Azione contrattuale contro Facebook parzialmente protetta dal safe harbour ex § 230 CDA

Il distreto nord della Californa 21 .09.2022 , CASE NO. 22-cv-02366-RS, c. Meta, affronta il tema della invocabilità del porto sicuro  ex § 230 CDA nel caso venga azionata responsabilità contrattuale di tipo editoriale del PROVIDER per materiali non propri.

Nel caso ricorreva anche un contratto di pubblicità dell’utente con  Facebook, tipo assai diffuso e  al centro delle vendite digitali odierne.

Fatti: << Shared is a partnership based out of Ontario, Canada that “creates and publishes original,
timely, and entertaining [online] content.” Dkt. 21 ¶ 9. In addition to its own website, Plaintiff also
operated a series of Facebook pages from 2006 to 2020. During this period, Shared avers that its
pages amassed approximately 25 million Facebook followers, helped in part by its substantial
engagement with Facebook’s “advertising ecosystem.” This engagement occurred in two ways.
First, Shared directly purchased “self-serve ads,” which helped drive traffic to and
Shared’s Facebook pages.

Second, Shared participated in a monetization program called “Instant
Articles,” in which articles from would be embedded into and operate within the
Facebook news feed; Facebook would then embed ads from other businesses into those articles
and give Shared a portion of the ad revenue. Shared “invested heavily in content creation” and
retained personnel and software specifically to help it maximize its impact on the social media
Id. ¶ 19.
Friction between Shared and Facebook began in 2018. Shared states that it lost access to
Instant Articles on at least three occasions between April and November of that year. Importantly,
Shared received no advance notice that it would lose access. This was contrary to Shared’s averred
understanding of the Facebook Audience Network Terms (“the FAN Terms”), which provide that
“[Facebook] may change, withdraw, or discontinue [access to Instant Articles] in its sole
discretion and [Facebook] will use good faith efforts to provide Publisher with notice of the
Id. ¶ 22; accord Dkt. 21-5. Shared asserts that “notice,” as provided in the FAN Terms,
obliges Facebook to provide
advance notice of a forthcoming loss of access, rather than after-thefact notice. (…)>.

Facebook (F.) poi sospese l’account e impedì il funzionamento del programma di advertisment

Alla domanda giudiziale, F. (anzi Meta) si difende preliminarmente con il safe harbour, quale decisione editoriale e quindi libera:

LA CORTE: << Defendant is only partially correct. Plaintiff raises three claims involving Defendant’s
decision to suspend Plaintiff’s access to its Facebook accounts and thus “terminate [its] ability to
reach its followers”: one for conversion, one for breach of contract, and one for breach of the
implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.
See Dkt. 21, ¶¶ 54–63, 110–12, 119. Shared
claims that, contrary to the Facebook Terms of Service, Defendant suspended Shared’s access to
its Facebook pages without first determining whether it had “clearly, seriously or repeatedly
breached [Facebook’s] Terms or Policies>>.

E poi: << At bottom, these claims seek to hold Defendant liable
for its decision to remove third-party content from Facebook. This is a quintessential editorial
decision of the type that is “perforce immune under section 230.”
Barnes, 570 F.3d at 1102
Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v., 521 F.3d 1157, 1170–
71 (9th Cir. 2008) (en banc)). Ninth Circuit courts have reached this conclusion on numerous
See, e.g., King v. Facebook, Inc., 572 F. Supp. 3d 776, 795 (N.D. Cal. 2021); Atkinson
v. Facebook Inc.
, 20-cv-05546-RS (N.D. Cal. Dec. 7, 2020); Fed. Agency of News LLC v.
Facebook, Inc.
, 395 F. Supp. 3d 1295, 1306–07 (N.D. Cal. 2019). To the extent Facebook’s Terms
of Service outline a set of criteria for suspending accounts (i.e., when accounts have “clearly,
seriously, or repeatedly” breached Facebook’s policies), this simply restates Meta’s ability to
exercise editorial discretion. Such a restatement does not, thereby, waive Defendant’s section
230(c)(1) immunity.
See King, 572 F. Supp. 3d at 795. Allowing Plaintiff to reframe the harm as
one of lost data, rather than suspended access, would simply authorize a convenient shortcut
through section 230’s robust liability limitations by way of clever pleading. Surely this cannot be
what Congress would have intended. As such, these claims must be dismissed.

In breve, che i materiali di cui si contesta la rimozione siano dell’attore/contraente (anzichè di un utente terzo come nei più frequenti casi di diffamazione), nulla sposta: il safe harbour sempre si applica, ricorrendo i requisiti previsti dal § 230 CDA