Green v. America Online, 318 F.3d 465 (3d. Cir. 2003)

Type of online publisher: 
America Online (AOL), online chat room
Publisher's Role in Third Party Content: 
Transmitted messages between third parties
CDA § 230 applicable?: 

In the Third Circuit's first CDA § 230 case, the plaintiff sued AOL after two other AOL users sent him defamatory messages and a virus-like "punter" program through an AOL chat room. But the court ruled that the program fell within the definition of "information" provided by a third party under CDA § 230, and that AOL had not waived its § 230 immunity through its Membership Agreement (which stipulated that AOL did not assume responsibility for third-party content).

The court also rejected the plaintiff’s claims that CDA § 230 violated the First Amendment and exceeded Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause.

Key Quotes:

Green thus attempts to hold AOL 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 (citing Zeran at 332-333).

Court Opinion Document: 

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