CDA230

Carafano v. Metrosplash.com, Inc., 339 F.3d 1119 (9th Cir. 2003)

Type of online publisher: 
Metrosplash.com, dating website
Publisher's Role in Third Party Content: 
Standardized questions on profile
CDA § 230 applicable?: 
Yes

The dating website Metrosplash.com, Inc., was sued for a third-party's objectionable response to an online questionnaire. The court ruled that providing a questionnaire for users to fill out did not make a dating website an information content provider because none of the objectionable content posted by the third-party "bore more than a tenuous relationship to the actual questions asked."

The court concluded that calling a website a content creator for posting standardized questions would run counter to Congressional intent in enacting CDA § 230, since creating easily encoded questions arguably "promotes the expressed Congressional policy ‘to promote the continued development of the Internet and other interactive computer services.'"

Key Quotes:

[R]eviewing courts have treated § 230(c) immunity as quite robust, adopting a relatively expansive definition of "interactive computer service" and a relatively restrictive definition of "information content provider."

Under § 230 ... so long as a third party willingly provides the essential published content, the interactive service provider receives full immunity regardless of the specific editing or selection process.

Congress granted most Internet services immunity from liability for publishing false or defamatory material so long as the information was provided by another party. As a result, Internet publishers are treated differently from corresponding publishers in print, television and radio.

Court Opinion Document: 

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