Laura Loomer Loses Another Lawsuit Related to Her Twitter Ban–Illoominate v. CAIR
This is the detritus of Laura Loomer’s lawsuit against Twitter for banning her account. A court previously dismissed those claims on Section 230 grounds. She also sued the Council on American-Islamic Relations Foundation (CAIR), claiming they complained to Twitter about her and that’s what caused Twitter to ban her. The 11th Circuit easily dismisses that claim in a short unpublished per curiam opinion.
Fraudulent Joinder. Loomer sued in state court. The defendants removed to federal court. However, one of the defendants, CAIR-Florida, eliminated diversity jurisdiction as a basis for federal court jurisdiction. CAIR argued that CAIR-Florida was sued only to defeat diversity jurisdiction, and there was never a tenable cause of action against CAIR-Florida.
The court says “Loomer and Illoominate admit they cannot provide any facts showing that CAIR-Florida was involved in the ban of Loomer’s account, and instead offer only speculation.” In contrast, the defendants provide an explanation for why she sued CAIR-Florida: they claim they were trolling Loomer:
According to Bernard, he and Chris Gillen decided to convince Loomer that CAIR Foundation was the reason Twitter banned her account. Bernard stated that CAIR-Florida was not involved in their scheme and that they never mentioned CAIR-Florida to Loomer during the entirety of the prank
It’s all fun and games until your pranks get you sued. In any case, because there was never a viable claim against CAIR-Florida, the court says its joinder was fraudulent. This means the federal courts do have jurisdiction.
Tortious Interference. Loomer claimed that CAIR disrupted her relationship with her Twitter followers and Twitter itself. With respect to Twitter followers, the court says “no matter how economically beneficial that relationship might
be, no cause of action exists for interference with Loomer’s relationship with the general public.” As for Twitter, the court explains:
Twitter’s Terms of Service, which the plaintiffs do not dispute, allow Twitter to ban Loomer from its platform for any reason at all. So even if CAIR Foundation instructed Twitter to ban her account, it did not tortiously interfere with a business relationship because Loomer did not have legal or contractual rights in the continued use of her account
What the court is essentially saying is that Loomer built her Twitter audience on the foundation of a contract that could be yanked any time by Twitter. When Twitter exercises that contract provision, Loomer loses her audience and all of the investments required to aggregate them.
This issue has vexed me for over 15 years: why would anyone make valuable investments in an Internet service that provides no contract protections for those investments? (This paper was the closest I came to answering that question). Most lawyers would advise against making such risky/speculative investments.
Over the years, I’ve decided I am OK with this. An Internet service, like any two-sided market, must maintain good relations with individual content suppliers or it risks spooking the entire developer community, and that concern acts as a(n imperfect) brake on the service’s capriciousness. Furthermore, other content developers, and the audience, demand that the Internet service manage the developer community in a way that preserves its audience, and the law must give it that flexibility. So the court in the Loomer case is right to reject the tortious interference claim because Twitter can and must do what it thinks it best to manage its community.
Case citation: Illoominate Media, Inc. v. CAIR Florida, 2020 WL 7703141 (11th Cir. Dec. 29, 2020)
Prior blog posts on Laura Loomer’s litigation:
- Court Rejects Another Lawsuit Alleging that Internet Companies Suppress Conservative Views–Freedom Watch v. Google
- Notifying Twitter of TOS Violations Isn’t Tortious Interference–Illoominate v. CAIR
- Court Tosses Antitrust Claims That Internet Giants Are Biased Against Conservatives–Freedom Watch v. Google