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Yelp CDA 230, Reviewer Anonymity Cases Were Top Social Media Rulings in 2014

January 14, 2015, Bloomberg BNA

Covington partner Simon Frankel is quoted in this article regarding the top social media rulings of 2014:

"Section 230 of the CDA generally immunizes social media websites from liability for defamatory comments made by its users. This section provides that ‘‘[n]o provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider,’’ 47 U.S.C. § 230. However, a publisher may lose CDA 230 immunity if it is involved in the creation of the allegedly unlawful content to such an extent that it can be considered an information content provider. Section 230 of the CDA defines an ‘‘information content provider’’ as ‘‘any person or entity that is responsible, in whole or in part, for the creation or development of information provided through the Internet or any other interactive computer service.’’

"Courts have held that Section 230 immunity applies to a website operator’s exercise of ‘‘traditional editorial functions,’’ including screening, editing, and removing postings. The New York Court of Appeals decided in 2011 that a forum administrator did not lose its immunity when it exercised its editing power and turned a user’s defamatory comment into a new discussion thread Soon after, the New York Supreme Court held that a website operator that added titles and meta-tags to comments was also still immune from liability."

'"Simon Frankel, of Covington & Burling LLP, San Francisco, told Bloomberg BNA that website operators may lose CDA protection if they have any hand in shaping or curating the content posted for users. For example, if a website declares that “we will only post information we consider appropriate,” and filters out some user content, it can be held legally responsible for inappropriate information that is displayed on the website."'

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