Klayman v. Mark Zuckerberg & Facebook, Inc., No. 13–7017.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
Writing for the CourtMILLETT
Citation753 F.3d 1354
PartiesLarry Elliott KLAYMAN, Appellant v. Mark ZUCKERBERG and Facebook, Inc., Appellees.
Docket NumberNo. 13–7017.
Decision Date13 June 2014

753 F.3d 1354

Larry Elliott KLAYMAN, Appellant
Mark ZUCKERBERG and Facebook, Inc., Appellees.

No. 13–7017.

United States Court of Appeals,
District of Columbia Circuit.

Argued Feb. 25, 2014.
Decided June 13, 2014.

[753 F.3d 1355]

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, (No. 1:11–cv–00874).

Larry Klayman argued the cause and filed the brief for appellant.

Craig S. Primis argued the causes for appellees. With him on the brief was K. Winn Allen.

Before: TATEL, BROWN and MILLETT, Circuit Judges.

Opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge MILLETT.

MILLETT, Circuit Judge:

Three years ago, plaintiff-appellant Larry Klayman encountered a page on Facebook's social networking website entitled “Third Palestinian Intifada,” which called for Muslims to rise up and kill the Jewish people. Facebook subsequently removed the Third Intifada page from its website, but not promptly enough for Klayman. He filed suit against Facebook and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, alleging that their delay in removing that page and similar pages constituted intentional assault and negligence. The district court held that the Communications Decency Act of 1996, 47 U.S.C. § 230, shielded Zuckerberg and Facebook from suit. We affirm.


In enacting the Communications Decency Act, Congress found that the Internet and related computer services “represent an extraordinary advance in the availability of educational and informational resources,” and “offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad avenues for intellectual activity.” 47 U.S.C. § 230(a). The Internet has done so, Congress stressed, “with a minimum of

[753 F.3d 1356]

government regulation.” Id. Congress accordingly made it the “policy of the United States” to “promote the continued development of the Internet,” and “to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet and other interactive computer services, unfettered by Federal or State regulation[.]” Id. § 230(b).

To that end, Section 230(c) of the Act commands that “[n]o provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” 47 U.S.C. § 230(c)(1). A later section of the Act adds preemptive bite to that prohibition, providing that “[n]o cause of action may be brought and no liability may be imposed under any State or local law that is inconsistent with this section.” Id. § 230(e)(3).

As relevant here, the Act defines a protected “interactive computer service” as “any information service, system, or access software provider that provides or enables computer access by multiple users to a computer server, including specifically a service or system that provides access to the Internet [.]” 47 U.S.C. § 230(f)(2). An information content provider, in turn, is defined as “any person or entity that is responsible, in whole or in part, for the creation or development of information provided through the Internet or any other interactive computer service.” Id. § 230(f)(3).

Facebook is an Internet-based social networking website that allows its users worldwide to share information, opinions, and other content of the users' own choosing for free. Klayman v. Zuckerberg, 910 F.Supp.2d 314, 316 (D.D.C.2012). Like millions of others, Larry Klayman maintains a Facebook account. When he joined Facebook, the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities for users advised Klayman that Facebook does its “best to keep Facebook safe, but we cannot guarantee it,” J.A. 23, and that “YOU USE IT AT YOUR OWN RISK. WE ARE PROVIDING FACEBOOK ‘AS IS' WITHOUT ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES,” J.A. 26 (capitalization in original). The Statement continued: “FACEBOOK IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ACTIONS, CONTENT, INFORMATION, OR DATA OF THIRD PARTIES [.]” J.A. 27 (capitalization in original).

While using the site a few years ago, Klayman came across a page entitled “Third Palestinian Intifada,” which called for an uprising to take place after the completion of Islamic prayers on May 15, 2011, and proclaimed that “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once Muslims have killed all the Jews.” More than 360,000 Facebook users were members of the group; three similar pages calling for a Third Intifada attracted over 7,000 members. Compl. ¶ 7.

At some point, Israel's Minister for Public Diplomacy wrote a letter to Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg to request that the Intifada pages be removed. Klayman alleges that he also requested removal of the pages, but does not indicate when. After “many days,” Facebook removed the pages. Compl. ¶ 12.

Klayman subsequently sued Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg (collectively, “Facebook”), in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, alleging that their insufficiently prompt removal of the Third Intifada pages constituted intentional assault and negligent breach of a duty of care that Facebook allegedly owed to Klayman. Specifically, Klayman alleged that the Intifada pages “amount[ed] to a threat of the use of force against non-Muslims, and particularly Jews,” causing him “reasonable apprehension of severe bodily harm and/ or death.” Compl.

[753 F.3d 1357]

¶¶ 15–16. With respect to negligence, Mr. Klayman alleged that, “[a]s a subscriber to Facebook and as a member of the public, Defendants owed Plaintiff a duty of care, which they violated and breached by allowing and furthering the death threats by the Third Palestinian Intifada, and related and similar sites.” Id. ¶ 19.

Klayman sought an injunction to prevent Facebook from allowing the Intifada page and other similar pages on its website, as well as more than one billion dollars in compensatory and punitive damages. Compl., Prayer for Relief.

Facebook removed the case to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, and then moved to dismiss the case or, in the alternative, to have it transferred to the Northern District of California. The district court granted the motion to dismiss, Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), holding that the Communications Decency Act foreclosed tort liability predicated on Facebook's decisions to allow or to remove content from its website.


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