CDA230

Doe v. SexSearch.com, 502 F. Supp. 2d 719 (N.D. Ohio 2007), judgment summarily aff'd, 551 F.3d 412 (6th Cir. 2008)

Type of online publisher: 
SexSearch.com, adult dating site
Publisher's Role in Third Party Content: 
Reserved the "right to modify the content of profiles when they do not meet the profile guidelines"
CDA § 230 applicable?: 
Yes

The plaintiff in this case was charged criminally after he had consensual sex with a minor he met through SexSearch.com, though her profile stated she was 18 and he believed the website "warranted 'all persons within this site are 18+.'" He sued the website, attempting to circumvent CDA § 230 by objecting not to the content the minor posted but simply to her presence on the website. The court found that though these claims were "artfully pled," they boiled down to an argument that SexSearch.com was liable for inadequate monitoring, screening and deletion of content. As such, the allegations were barred by § 230.

The court also rejected the plaintiff's argument that CDA applies only to defamation cases, citing courts' wide "consensus that its grant of immunity is broad and far reaching."

Key Quotes:

At the end of the day, however, Plaintiff is seeking to hold SexSearch liable for its publication of third-party content and harms flowing from the dissemination of that content. The underlying basis for Plaintiff's claim is that if SexSearch had never published Jane Roe's profile, Plaintiff and Jane Roe never would have met, and the sexual encounter never would have taken place.  Plaintiff thus attempts to hold SexSearch liable for "decisions relating to the monitoring, screening, and deletion of content from its network-actions quintessentially related to a publisher's role." Section 230 specifically proscribes liability in such circumstances. (citations omitted)

Court Opinion Document: 
Jurisdiction: 

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