Instagram Account Termination Case Fails–Johnson v. Instagram

This is yet another account termination case. I just blogged one involving LinkedIn yesterday. Different social media service, same result–case dismissed.

Johnson’s Instagram account, @LICKMYKAKEZ, had 2.8M followers. She ran a business selling adult toys and promoted the business on her Instagram account. She claims she generated $10k/week in sales. In summer 2021, Instagram disabled her account.

[Note: as you might expect, the “LickMyKakez” account is NSFW, so I’m not linking to it. However, the account was live this morning, with 2.7M followers, and it’s even verified. The court doesn’t mention when the account was restored, if the plaintiff made any changes to the account to redress Instagram’s concerns, or how the restoration affects the plaintiff’s claims.]

The court dismisses the plaintiff’s claims:

Breach of Contract. The TOS allows Instagram to disable accounts in many circumstances, so there wasn’t a contract breach. Plus, the TOS waived lost profits, so Johnson can’t claim those.

Tortious Interference. “Meta’s general awareness that Johnson’s Instagram account was a business account does not satisfy the second element of a tortious interference claim.”

Trademark Infringement. The plaintiff claimed that fake accounts used her brand on Instagram and were not disabled. The court says her allegations were conclusory and insufficient.

Section 230. “The Court need not determine whether Meta would be entitled to Section 230 immunity, as Johnson has failed to state a claim for breach of contract or intentional interference.” Yet again, Section 230 played no role in dismissing an account termination case (in our study, over half the dismissals did not involve Section 230). Anyone claiming Section 230 reform would change the outcome of a case like this proves they don’t know what they are talking about.

This case is another entry in the dozens and dozens of failed lawsuits over account terminations and content removals. (I’ve stopped counting, but we should be approaching 100 by now). Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Case Citation: Johnson v. Meta Platforms, Inc., 2023 WL 5021784 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 4, 2023). The complaint.