OK, Loomer: Yet Another Court Tosses Yet Another Dumbass Laura Loomer Lawsuit

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from the being-widely-disliked-is-not-a-cause-of-action dept

Alt-right semi-personality Laura Loomer just can’t win. And she shouldn’t! She’s ridiculous. She’s perhaps most famous for treating her own unwillingness to perform routine car maintenance as an act of anti-Loomer terrorism.

When you think your decaying tires are somehow evidence of Islamic violence, it’s probably time for you to get off the internet (or, at least, out of your rideshare). But Loomer is impervious to criticism, much like she’s apparently impervious to courtroom losses.

Loomer’s social media accounts have been suspended or banned by a variety of services. In her mind, this is somehow actionable in court, despite social media companies having access to Section 230 immunity. And, despite the private actions of private companies not being a violation of federal law unless Loomer’s able to prove some form of actionable discrimination.

So far, Loomer has been unable to sustain a lawsuit against social media companies for any number of reasons, including those listed above. That she’s attempted to bring RICO claims and other such nonsense against these companies because they simply told her that her content was no longer welcome on their platforms has only added to her uninterrupted string of ignominious defeats.

Loomer first sued Facebook in July 2019, alleging she had been “defamed” when the company referred to her content as “dangerous.” This followed the dumping of a lawsuit alleging an “anti-conservative” conspiracy between multiple social media service providers, including Twitter, Facebook, Google, and Apple. That defamation lawsuit went nowhere.

Neither did her lawsuit against Twitter — one that saw her hit with $124k in legal fees following yet another spectacular loss in court. Those fees were affirmed by the appeals court, which saw no reason to disturb the ruling by the Florida federal court against the disturbed (or, at least, endlessly perturbed) plaintiff, Laura Loomer.

Persistence is the lesser half of discretion, as Loomer and those like her continue to file lawsuits in hopes of holding tech companies responsible for daring to moderate content. And they just keep losing. As Eric Goldman reports, another Loomer lawsuit is DOA, having failed to survive even a cursory review by a California federal court.

Loomer produces trash content, which got her banned at Facebook and Twitter. In response, she has brought several trash lawsuits, which have gone as well as you’d expect. Her latest trash lawsuit claimed that social media, the government, and Procter & Gamble were all doing the RICO against her. It’s never the RICO.

It never is. It’s Section 230 and private companies being able to choose who they do business with. It’s also never censorship, even if the Fifth Circuit Appeals Court has recently decided the First Amendment is null and void when it comes to de-platforming performative dipshits like Laura Loomer, whose patented blend of bigotry and misinformation is currently only welcome at social media services disliked by even the extremists they cater to.

This ruling [PDF] is more the same for Loomer and her performative lawsuit ilk. You can’t win if you don’t bring anything actionable to the legal fight. Just because you don’t like what happened to your social media account doesn’t mean you actually have anything to sue about.

The lawsuit alleges her Democratic party opponent was subjected to none of the moderation Loomer experienced on Facebook. And this allegation is true, although it downplays what Loomer did to get banned by Facebook and that her congressional run page was viewed (not entirely inaccurately!) by Facebook as an attempt to get around that ban.

The ruling recounts all of these details before getting to the point. There’s nothing for Loomer to sue about here, no matter how creative her arguments (which also insist Proctor & Gamble was in on the fix because it expressed concerns about Facebook’s handling of bigoted content).

Hoping to avoid the expected First Amendment and Section 230 defenses by Facebook, Loomer went all the way over the top, claiming Facebook’s banning of her accounts was the sort of thing only the CIA should be able to get away with.

The plaintiff alleges that the racketeering enterprise has engaged in the following criminal acts (or “predicate acts”): interference with commerce by threats or violence, 18 U.S.C. § 1951;
interstate transportation in aid of racketeering, id. § 1952; wire fraud, id. § 1343; providing material support to terrorists, id. § 2339B; and advocating overthrow of the government, id. § 2385.

Hmm. Somehow a third-rate extremist who lucked into finding support for her alt-right performance art was somehow the target of a massive conspiracy involving Facebook and the government that was — at the point of her banning — led by her boy, Donald Trump.

Whoa, if even conceivably capable of creating the temporary suspension of belief. Courts like facts and supportable claims. What they don’t like is whatever the fuck this is.

For the predicate act of providing material support to terrorists, the plaintiff alleges that “Hezbollah and Hamas maintained a widespread presence on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.” A Hamas television station and leaders of each organization had accounts on Facebook and Twitter. On September 18, 2019, Facebook allegedly “was found to have automatically generated hundreds of business pages promoting the terrorist groups ISIS and Al Qaida” and allowed those pages to remain online for up to six weeks. In October 2019, a U.S. policy director for Twitter said that “Twitter allows accounts associated with political arms of groups designated by the U.S. government as ‘foreign terrorist organizations.’” Taliban supporters and spokesmen also maintained accounts on Facebook and Twitter.

The last alleged predicate act is advocating overthrow of the government. Facebook “facilitated” the group “Abolish ICE Denver” when it “organize[d] gatherings outside the home of ICE warden Johnny Choate” and “post[ed] direct threats, such as ‘FIRE TO THE PRISON.’” Facebook “refused to remove a page celebrating ‘dead cops’ titled ‘The Only Good Cops Are Dead Cops.’” On January 7 and 8, 2021, Facebook and Twitter banned Donald Trump’s accounts. And in August 2021, members of the Taliban used Twitter “to provide updates and propaganda messaging in furtherance and support of the Taliban[’s] overthrow of United States governmental entities and interests in Afghanistan.

Possibly problematic! Certainly not a great look! But what this has to do with Loomer’s banning is left up to the court’s imagination. And courts aren’t much for doing the connective work for plaintiffs who go so far off the rails it’s almost impossible to square their allegations with their requests for damages.

Before moving on to address the charitably described “merits” of Loomer’s case, it takes time to note this is the fourth Loomer suit against Twitter and Facebook, one of which was dismissed by a court, with the other three being voluntarily dismissed by Loomer and her legal rep, Larry Klayman. None of this bodes well for this fifth suit, which seemingly picked causes of action via dartboard or Tarot cards or a malfunctioning random number generator.

Very little of what’s alleged has anything to do with anything. And what can be (extremely charitably) inferred from the complaint by the court still shows Loomer has nothing approaching a legal cause for action.

On the technical side, res judicata terminates the lawsuit. These claims have already been handled by federal courts and not one of those decisions/dismissals allow these claims to survive, no matter what Loomer believes.

The plaintiff contends that “new material facts” occurred after Freedom Watch: individuals within the federal government worked with Twitter and Facebook to “suppress[] . . . the Hunter Biden laptop scandal,” ban Alex Berenson from Twitter, and prevent the plaintiff from possessing a firearm. The plaintiff further argues that these allegations show that the defendants are state actors engaged in First Amendment violations. She does not allege or claim First Amendment violations in this case, though. In any event, the purported “new material facts” are not material because they are unrelated to Twitter’s conduct towards the plaintiff.

More to the point (at least as far as Techdirt and Section 230 enthusiast Eric Goldman are concerned), none of what’s alleged (however spectacularly) eliminates this long-held (and long-respected) immunity for social media moderation decisions.

The conduct of Twitter and Facebook at issue here is not enough to make them information content providers, for several reasons. First, content that “comes entirely from subscribers and is passively displayed by [the website operator]” does not make the website operator an information content provider. Second, the plaintiff has not cognizably alleged that Twitter and Facebook’s manipulating or editing users’ content contributes to any illegality. For example, she does not explain how flagging posts as factually misleading amounts to anti-competitive conduct. See Dangaard v. Instagram, LLC, No. C 22-01101 WHA, 2022 WL 17342198, at *2, *4 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 30, 2022) (the “Meta defendants [were] not entitled to [§ 230] immunity for operation of their filtering system,” because the filtering system allegedly demoted competitors of the website OnlyFans while favoring OnlyFans, which materially contributed to anti-competitive conduct). Third, what is at issue here is not the “alleged unlawfulness” of any content on Twitter and Facebook, but rather Twitter and Facebook’s removal of the plaintiff’s accounts. See Roommates.com, 521 F.3d at 1167–68.

That Loomer’s content was denigrated as compared to her temporary rival in a congressional primary (allegedly!) is not anti-competitive behavior by Facebook (or Twitter, for that matter). Anti-competitive behavior would favor Facebook or a chosen business partner. Loomer’s failure to abide by Facebook’s content rules (and her opponent’s ability to abide by them) is the defining feature here. Even if Loomer had made a better anti-competition claim, the fact that the efforts targeted user-generated content would still mean Facebook is immune from this lawsuit.

As for the RICO? Well, you already know how that’s going to go.

These are allegations that Facebook and Procter & Gamble each conducted “business in their own interests.” In re JUUL Labs, 497 F. Supp. 3d at 599. Procter & Gamble did not want to advertise “on or near content that [it] determine[s] is hateful, denigrating or discriminatory.”89 Facebook has a “Community Standards” policy for its users and routinely discusses policy issues with its advertisers. These are lawful business decisions, and the plaintiff thus has not plausibly pleaded that Procter & Gamble is part of a RICO enterprise.

Businesses seeking ways to do business with each other and reaching acceptable compromises is not a criminal conspiracy. And note the word “criminal,” which Loomer and plaintiffs like her always seem to ignore when suing companies over moderation decisions. That word is crucial to RICO complaints and it always goes missing when flailing plaintiffs try to find some way to profit from their inability to comply with the content guidelines put in place by the communication services they use.

The court will not reach all of the defendants’ other (valid) arguments that the plaintiff’s RICO claims aren’t plausibly pleaded. But it bears emphasizing that the “predicate acts” a plaintiff must plausibly allege are crimes, not torts.

This lawsuit is now at least as dead as Loomer’s poor, neglected radials.

The new allegations are about Twitter’s allegedly coordinating with the federal government to suppress users’ content (as revealed by internal Twitter documents), Procter & Gamble’s allegedly demanding that Facebook ban the plaintiff (as already addressed), the plaintiff’s injuries after being banned from social media, and wire fraud. None changes the court’s conclusions that (1) res judicata applies as to Facebook and Twitter, (2) the claims against Facebook and Twitter would require the court to treat Facebook and Twitter as publishers, in violation of § 230, and (3) the allegations against Procter & Gamble are about lawful business decisions, not a racketeering enterprise. The court thus dismisses the plaintiff’s claims with prejudice.

This slams the door shut on this lawsuit. Well, it would if it wasn’t Loomer pursuing it. Apparently she has the resources to continue to annoy publicly-funded resources, like the appellate level of the justice system. She won’t find anything there, either. But that won’t stop her from trying.

Filed Under: content moderation, laura loomer, rico, section 230

Companies: facebook, twitter



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Las Vegas News Magazine

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