Court: Twitter Can Kick Racists to the Curb

By William Vogeler, Esq. on August 22, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Twitter booted a white nationalist from its platform, and a state appeals court added good riddance.

Jared Taylor sued the social media company for suspending his account, alleging it violated unfair competition laws and other claims. A trial judge ruled for Twitter on two of three claims, but California's First District Court of Appeal vacated the ruling and made it three-for-three.

The appeals court said Twitter is protected from liability by the Communications Decency Act. In other words, kicking out the racist was the decent thing to do.

Communications Decency Act

Issuing an alternative writ in Twitter v. Superior Court for the City and County of San Francisco, the appeals panel told the trial judge to dismiss the complaint. Either that, of hold a hearing on why it shouldn't be.

The First District, in a unanimous ruling, said Twitter was immune from suit under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Among other provisions, the law protects "Good Samaritan" blocking and screening of offensive material.

"The immunity provided by [S]ection 230 was intended to shield service providers from the fear of liability that might deter them from blocking and screening offensive material," Judge Jim Humes wrote for the appeals panel.

Twitter's policy "falls squarely within its role as a publisher," the ABA Journal reported, and that protects it from civil liability.

Twitter Rules

The company updated its rules in November, with descriptions of "content boundaries." They included rules against:

  • Graphic violence and adult content
  • Threats of violence and physical harm
  • Abuse and hateful conduct

"You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease," the policy says.

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