Section 230 Immunizes Bing’s Search Results–White v. Microsoft

This lawsuit relates to an episode of the TV show Evil Lives Here called “I Invited Him In,” which discusses an NY serial killer named Nathaniel White. A different Nathaniel White claimed that the episode improperly featured his mugshot and thus connected him to the serial killings. Among other defendants, he sued Microsoft for Bing search results linking to the episode. Microsoft defended on Section 230 grounds.

The court agrees with Microsoft. “The persons who posted the information on the eight URLs provided by Mr. White were the ‘information content providers’ and Microsoft was the ‘interactive service provider.’…the trial court was correct to grant summary judgment finding Microsoft immune from Mr. White’s defamation claim by operation of Section 230 since Microsoft did not publish any defamatory statement.” Cites to Marshall Locksmith v. Google, In re Facebook, and Baldino’s Lock v. Google.

A batshit crazy concurrence questions “section 230(c)(1)’s constitutionality as applied to state defamation law” because the Constitution’s Commerce Clause power may not convey “the power to nationalize state common law defamation actions….The internet, and related e-commerce, can certainly be interstate in nature. But the commerce clause was not intended to nationalize the whole of America law.” If it matters, the concurring judge is a DeSantis appointee.

I’ve stopped tracking all of the times Section 230 has immunized search results. Here’s an incomplete list:

Maughan v. Google Technology, Inc., 143 Cal. App. 4th 1242 (Cal. App. Ct. 2006); Murawski v. Pataki, 514 F. Supp. 2d 577 (S.D.N.Y. 2007); Shah v. MyLife.Com, Inc., 2012 WL 4863696 (D. Or. 2012); Merritt v. Lexis Nexis, 2012 WL 6725882 (E.D. Mich. 2012); Nieman v. Versuslaw, Inc., 2012 WL 3201931 (C.D. Ill. 2012); Getachew v. Google, Inc., 491 Fed. Appx. 923 (10th Cir. 2012); Mmubango v. Google, Inc., 2013 WL 664231 (E.D. Pa. 2013); O’Kroley v. Fastcase Inc., 831 F.3d 352 (6th Cir. 2016); Fakhrian v. Google Inc., 2016 WL 1650705 (Cal. App. Ct. 2016); Despot v. Baltimore Life Insurance Co., 2016 WL 4148085 (W.D. Pa. 2016); Manchanda v. Google, Inc., 2016 WL 6806250 (S.D.N.Y. 2016); Mosha v. Yandex Inc., 2019 WL 5595037 (S.D.N.Y. 2019).

Add this case to the list.

Case citation: White v. Discovery Communications LLC, 2023 WL 3335417 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. May 10, 2023)