Section 230 Shields Vimeo From Liability Arising From Deletion of Church’s Account

In Domen v. Vimeo, Inc., 2021 WL 922749 (2d Cir. March 11, 2021) (Pooler, Wesley, Carney), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of discrimination claims asserted against video-hosting website Vimeo. The basis for dismissal was Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, 47 U.S. Code § 230 (“Section 230”).

In sum, this case arose from Vimeo’s deletion of Church United’s account because of its violation of one of Vimeo’s content policies barring the promotion of “sexual orientation change efforts” on its platform.

From the Opinion:

Section 230 figures prominently in the current discourse regarding the intersection of law and social media.[] While lively debate on whether and how best to regulate interactive computer service platforms is ongoing, and experts, consumers, and businesses continue to propose a variety of solutions, Section 230 remains the governing statute. Moreover, its impact on this case is clear. Pursuant to Section 230(c)(2), Vimeo is free to restrict access to material that, in good faith, it finds objectionable. Appellants argue that Vimeo demonstrated bad faith by discriminating against them on the basis of their religion and sexual orientation, which they term “former” homosexuality; deleting Church United’s entire account, as opposed to only the videos at issue; and permitting other videos with titles referring to homosexuality to remain on the website. However, Appellants’ conclusory allegations of bad faith do not survive the pleadings stage, especially when examined in the context of Section 230(c)(2). Section 230(c)(2) does not require interactive service providers to use a particular method of content restriction, nor does it mandate perfect enforcement of a platform’s content policies. Indeed, the fundamental purpose of Section 230(c)(2) is to provide platforms like Vimeo with the discretion to identify and remove what they consider objectionable content from their platforms without incurring liability for each decision. Therefore, we AFFIRM the judgment of the district court.

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