Miltenberg: “If Facebook Is Immunized From User Content, What About the “Shitty Media Men” List Creator?,” The Hollywood Reporter


As lawmakers discuss the future of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, at least one individual is attempting to use it for her own benefit — and the #metoo movement … Provocatively, it’s no longer just companies using Facebook’s favorite law to advantage themselves. Now, at least one individual is attempting to raise 230 immunity in a legal fight with implications for the #metoo movement. Her name is Moira Donegan, the creator of the “S***** Media Men” spreadsheet, which allowed women to anonymously post sexual abuse accusations against others. Stephen Elliott, a widely published author and director of About Cherry and Happy Baby, is suing Donegan and 30 anonymous women for defamation over the anonymous suggestion in a spreadsheet that he is a rapist. It’s possible, maybe even likely, that his lawsuit will fail due to the author’s struggle to articulate actual malice on Donegan’s part, but he’s giving it a go. In an amended complaint, Elliott asserts alternative theories on her culpability: Donegan allegedly fabricated the rape allegation against Elliott herself or she recklessly published accusations from a stranger she didn’t know or she contributed to the circulation of the spreadsheet or she was at least responsible for taking that allegation of rape and highlighting Elliott’s entry in red … Here’s what Elliott’s attorney Andrew Miltenberg wrote in a court brief last week: “[I]f Section 230 immunized individuals who create an interactive Internet document and then personally post onto it unlawful content learned from a third party, the results would be absurd,” he stated. “Suppose an individual wanted knowingly and unlawfully to publish a false and malicious rumor about A that she had heard from B; or to disclose true but private facts about C that she’d heard from D; or to publish a trade secret confided to her by E; or to identify the real name of a covert agent revealed to her by F. These acts would all be unlawful, yet on Defendant’s argument, she could do any of them and gain Section 230 immunity through the simple expedient of creating an online interactive spreadsheet and then posting the unlawful content herself. Nothing in the text of Section 230 remotely supports so absurd a conclusion.”

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