Looking for love on the internet? Exercise appropriate caution, as Mary Kay Beckman learned the hard way. Beckman created a profile on Match.com and hooked up with a man who turned out to be the date from hell. When Beckman decided to end things after a few meetings, she received 'threatening and harassing text messages' from said date, who then subjected her to a 'brutal attack'. Beckman sued the online dating platform which had occasioned her unhappy meeting: Beckman v Match.com (DC Nev, 31 May 2013).
Her claim was dismissed. Federal legislation on deceptive trade practices could not provide the basis for a negligence claim. The Communications Decency Act (CDA) didn't work either, because it provides immunity to providers of interactive computer services who enable users like Beckman and her attacker to publish information. As a result, Match.com could not be liable for any emotional distress resulting from the publication of a user's personal info because it had not intentionally inflicted harm or been reckless as to the consequences of its actions. Claims based on failure to warn of the risks of meeting someone online or negligent misrepresentation also failed: the Nevada court held that Match.com could invoke CDA immunity here as well, but the underlying message is that Match.com owed Beckman no duty, and that she really ought to have known better.