The Realty Estate Group of New York operates a blog about the New York real estate market. A user posted a negative comment in the blog about Ardor Realty Corp. A Realty Estate Group employee turned the user comment into a stand-alone post with the header "Ardor Realty and Those People: and now it's time for your weekly dose of hate, brought to you unedited, once again, by 'Ardor Realty sucks.' And for the record, we are so. not. afraid." This new post was accompanied by a photograph with an arguably derogatory caption; and it generated additional anonymous posts, many of which were also negative. Ardor Realty sued, and the New York Court of Appeals held that by pulling out the negative user comment and turning it into its own thread, Realty Estate Group was performing traditional editorial functions. As a result, it could still be protected from liability under the Communications Decency Act. The dissent argued that Realty Estate Group was doing more than just editing, it also embellished the comments, thus potentially encouraging others to post negative comments. The dissent believed the case should have been remanded to determine whether the Realty Estate Group's actions contributed to the new defamatory posts.
TIP: This decision suggests that, at least in New York, companies that make editorial changes to a user post may still be able to take advantage of the CDA shield. However, companies should take care in the extent to which they engage in "editing," since each decision is likely very fact-specific.