Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects the provider of an online business review site from liability for refusing to remove negative reviews, a district court ruled. The court stated that if the provider has taken no part in the creation of the reviews, "it is irrelevant for purposes of Section 230(c)(1) how incendiary or blatantly harassing that content may be, whether the provider has knowledge of the complained-of content, or whether it has a 'general monitoring policy' for such content." The court also ruled, however, that Section 230 does not extend to liability for the provider's own acts, including allegations that the provider removed positive reviews in order to coerce businesses to purchase advertising. While Section 230 shields service providers from liability for the removal of offensive materials, that liability is conditioned on the provider's "good faith." The court rejected the claims based upon alleged coercion, however, finding the business plaintiffs' allegations factually insufficient.
Levitt v. Yelp! Inc., No. 3:10-cv-01321-MHP (N.D. Cal. Mar. 22, 2011) Opinion