I'd Bet Ted Cruz Will Start Supporting Section 230 Once He Realizes He's On The Hook For Parler's Legal Expenses
from the put your money where your mouth is, ted dept
Senator Ted Cruz now loves Parler, the Twitter alternative that a bunch of Trump fans mistakenly believe won’t moderate content. We’ve already shown that’s false. However, there’s another issue with Parler that some are calling out — which is that you run a risk if you agree to that site’s user agreement, because of the following that is buried as #14 on the user agreement:
You agree to defend and indemnify Parler, as well as any of its officers, directors,
employees, and agents, from and against any and all claims, actions, damages, obligations,
losses, liabilities, costs or debt, and expenses (including but not limited to all attorneys fees)
arising from or relating to your access to and use of the Services. Parler will have the right
to conduct its own defense, at your expense, in any action or proceeding covered by this
Now, as we’ve discussed in the past, many social media sites have indemnity clauses, though they’re often much more limited (also, in looking now, I’m pleasantly surprised that it looks like a few have removed indemnity clauses altogether — I can’t find one in Twitter or Tumbler’s current terms for example). We’ve also discussed why people should be wary of many indemnity claims.
— nilay patel (@reckless) June 25, 2020
I wouldn’t quite call it a “reverse 230 clause” and I think that some of the screaming about this clause is a bit overblown (again, many other platforms have similar indemnity clauses, though many are at least a bit more limited to situations where the users actually violated some law).
However, this clause should make Ted Cruz and every other Parler user huge supporters of Section 230. Now, we already know that Cruz hates Section 230, has misinterpreted it frequently, and has supported calls to get rid of it, falsely believing that this will somehow stop content moderation from being used against Nazis or something.
But here’s the thing: since Ted Cruz is now on the hook if anyone sues Parler over Ted Cruz’s speech on that platform… well, then Ted Cruz might want to become a big supporter of Section 230 right quick. Because it will be Section 230 that gets such a lawsuit tossed out quickly and relatively inexpensively. Without Section 230 — even if the case is frivolous — Parler’s legal fees (by which, thanks to this legal agreement, we mean Ted Cruz’s legal fees) would be much, much higher, because the lack of 230 would create a procedural mess, which would likely extend any court case greatly, and rack up Cruz’s legal fees.
This is not to suggest that anyone should or would file such a lawsuit against Parler, but seeing how many misdirected cases we’ve seen filed against sites like Twitter over users’ speech on that platform, it wouldn’t be surprising if Parler eventually faces similar such lawsuits. And, if that’s the case, any of its users (including Cruz) will then be in deep shit if they don’t have 230 helping to reduce their legal liability.
So, Ted, maybe drop the nonsense and the lying about 230, and recognize: Section 230 protects you too, especially given your new favorite social media’s excessive terms of service.