Plaintiff Can’t Use Trump’s Anti-Section 230 EO to Sue Facebook–Gomez v. Zuckenberg
This pro se/in pro per plaintiff sued Facebook because he couldn’t log into his account or open a new one. The plaintiff claimed Facebook violated Trump’s anti-Section 230 executive order, EO 13295, Preventing Online Censorship, 85 Fed. Reg. 34079 (May 28, 2020). The court’s understated response:
EO 13925 was not intended to—and specifically precluded—a private right of action for individuals who assert an online platform targeted their accounts. To that end, EO 13925, Section 8(c) provides “[t]his order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.”
the Court finds EO 13925 does not provide a basis for Plaintiff’s claim even if Defendants arbitrarily removed his account or prevented him from creating a new account.
Although some folks have been trying to treat the EO as a serious legal development, this ruling is a reminder that Trump’s EO didn’t really do anything. It bloviated and lied to the American people, but it didn’t make any law that mattered. Having said that, the EO is catalyzing a series of other awful developments, such as the DOJ’s anti-Section 230 screed and the NTIA’s petition to the FCC to revamp Section 230 jurisprudence. I analogize the Trump EO to manure which, having been spread across our government, is sprouting up pernicious and unwanted weeds.
Case citation: Gomez v. Zuckenburg, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130989 (N.D.N.Y. July 23, 2020)
Note: the “Zuckenberg” caption is an error in the original complaint. In Bloomberg Law, I found 3 other case captions with the same error.