Facebook Isn’t Liable for Fake User Account–Caraccioli v. Facebook

I blogged about this case last year. (This case is also indexed in our compendium of nonconsensual pornography cases). In my prior post, I described the facts:

Franco Caraccioli is a third-year law student in San Diego. For reasons not explained in the opinion, someone created a fake Facebook account named “Franco Caracciolijerkingman” and posted photos and videos of Caraccioli “sexually arousing or pleasuring himself.” (All facts are based on allegations in Caraccioli’s complaint). The court doesn’t explain how the third party obtained those photos or videos. The operator of the fake Franco Caracciolijerkingman account then sent friend requests to a large number of Caraccioli’s friends, effectively disseminating the photos and videos to Caraccioli’s personal and professional contacts. Caraccioli complained about the fake account to Facebook, which allegedly initially rebuffed his takedown request because it “determined that Franco Caracciolijerkingman is a person who’s using Facebook in a way that follows the Facebook Community Standards.” After more complaints, Facebook allegedly changed its mind and took down the fake account. Caraccioli then sued Facebook for numerous causes of action.

The district court easily dismissed the lawsuit on Section 230 grounds. The appeal fares no better, only meriting a short per curiam memo opinion. On the key Section 230 question:

The district court properly dismissed Caraccioli’s defamation, libel, false light, public disclosure of private facts, intrusion upon seclusion, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligent supervision and retention, and California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”) claims because the basis for each of these claims is Facebook’s role as a “republisher” of material posted by a third party, and the claims are, therefore, barred by the Communications Decency Act (“CDA”)….Facebook did not become the “information content provider” under § 230(c)(1) merely by virtue of reviewing the contents of the suspect account and deciding not to remove it.

The breach of contract claim failed because the contract expressly disclaimed responsibility for third party content.

According to what purports to be his LinkedIn profile, Caraccioli has since graduated from Thomas Jefferson Law School but is not practicing as an attorney.

Case citation: Caraccioli v. Facebook, Inc., 2017 WL 2445063 (9th Cir. June 6, 2017)