A California state appellate court sided with Twitter and put a halt to a lawsuit filed against the social media service by white nationalist Jared Taylor. In the lawsuit, Taylor alleges he was wrongly banned from Twitter in December 2017 when Twitter permanently suspended Taylor and his publication, American Renaissance, soon after it announced a crackdown on “violent extremist groups.” In his lawsuit, Taylor claimed that the Twitter account suspensions violated several California laws, including one dealing with unfair business practices.
As a general rule, a website is not held liable for the content its users post on its platform. The Communications Decency Act (CDA) immunizes websites from lawsuits by not treating the website as the publisher or speaker of content posted by its users. It also allows websites to edit and remove content that could be obscene, lewd and objectionable without the website incurring liability for failure to remove other similar content. Courts have even gone as far as not holding websites liable for defamatory, offensive or infringing posts by its users even when such websites invite visitors to post potentially defamatory statements, so long as the website did not materially contribute to the actual offensive content of the post. While courts have applied this protection broadly, a recent Ninth Circuit decision declined to do so.