Anti-Zionist Loses Lawsuit Over Social Media Account Suspensions–Martillo v. Facebook

Martillo claims that six social media services suspended his accounts because he is an anti-Zionist. He sued for Title II discrimination. The court responds: “the defendants’ social media platforms are not places of ‘public accommodation.’ The statutory definition of a ‘public accommodation’ cannot be interpreted to include a virtual meeting place.” Cites to Lewis v. Google and Noah v. AOL (from nearly 20 years ago! Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose).

Martillo also sued for violations of Massachusetts’ common carrier law. The court responds simply: “The defendants are not common carriers of ‘merchandise or other property’ for purposes of this 1869 law.”

The court adds that both the Title II and common carrier claims, if otherwise meritorious, would be preempted by Section 230. The court says simply: “The defendants’ alleged blocking of content posted by Martillo and disabling of his account are editorial decisions protected by the CDA.” Cites to Sikhs for Justice v. Facebook and Langdon v. Google. However, as the court made clear, this case would have failed even without relying on Section 230.

Reminder: dozens of online account termination and content removal lawsuits have failed. Add this one (and the bonus below) to the list.

Case citation: Martillo v. Twitter, Inc., 1:21-cv-11119-RGS (D. Mass. Oct. 15, 2021)

BONUS: Bethune v. Facebook Inc., 0:21-cv-02118-NEB-HB (D. Minn. Oct. 15, 2021): Bethune wants $222 billion in damages because Facebook shut down his page. He sued for violations of 18 U.S.C. § 249, 18 U.S.C. § 242, and 18 U.S.C. § 371, none of which have a private right of action. He also brought a 1983 claim. The court says simply: “Neither Facebook nor Zuckerberg is alleged, or can plausibly be alleged, to be a ‘state actor’ within the meaning of § 1983.” Cite to Prager U. v. Google.

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