TheDirty Easily Defeats Another Defamation Lawsuit–Laake v. Dirty World

It’s been 6 years since I’ve blogged a case involving TheDirty, and I’m amazed that the site is around–and that people are still suing it. Well, maybe I’m not that surprised people are still suing the site if it’s still around. In any case, today’s pro se lawsuit, like numerous lawsuits preceding it, goes nowhere and gets a quick dismissal.

The plaintiff says that TheDirty hosts a service that it knows “libels” people. This sets up an easy Section 230 defense. The court’s analysis of Section 230:

federal law forbids defamation claims against host or platform website operators such as Dirty World, such as those alleged here, under the Communications Decency Act, 47 U.S.C. § 230 (the “CDA”). Dirty World cites multiple cases explaining the reasons underlying CDA’s prohibition. Conclusory and speculative allegations that the host or platform website operator must have created the speech is not sufficient to state a claim. [Kimzey v. Yelp!] Plaintiff has not plead facts here that “tend to demonstrate that the” post “was not, as is usual, authored by a user.” Further, the possibility that the posts were created by the website owner is not sufficient for a defamation claim to proceed against a host or platform website operator. [Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd. v.]

The First Amended Complaint’s allegation that “it is evident” that Dirty World “itself places comments on the webpages that are posted on their website” because the phrase “The Dirty Army” is present on Dirty World’s website and also its Facebook page is not sufficient to defeat CDA immunity

A parallel copyright claim fails because the complaint didn’t allege a copyright registration. For more on how plaintiffs use (and sometimes abuse) copyright claims to prop up lawsuits intended to protect their reputation, see my Copyright’s Memory Hole article with Jessica Silbey.

UPDATE: on May 12, 2020, the court said Section 230 preempts a purported claim under 47 USC 223.

Case citation: Laake v. Dirty World LLC, 2020 WL 1866124 (D. Ariz. April 14, 2020). The complaint. See also the court’s refusal to add GoDaddy as a defendant (magistrate report; district judge’s approval).

Prior Blog Posts on TheDirty