P sued D, claiming D had posted defamatory reviews of P on Yelp! D defaulted, and P recovered a judgment finding the Yelp! postings were defamatory, enjoining D from publishing reviews of P on Yelp! or other websites, and ordering Yelp! to remove D’s defamatory reviews as well as any others D posted within 7 days of judgment. Held: The federal Communications Decency Act (47 USC 230) has been broadly interpreted to immunize from defamation liability those who use the Internet to publicize materials created by others. Yelp! would have been immune had plaintiff sued it directly for having published D’s defamatory posts. P cannot avoid that immunity by choosing not to name Yelp! as a defendant and proceeding only against D. Where, as here, an Internet intermediary’s relevant conduct in a defamation case goes no further than the mere act of publication—including a refusal to depublish upon demand, after a subsequent finding that the published content is libelous—section 230 prohibits the type of directive that the trial court issued here, directing Yelp! to remove the libelous posts.
California Supreme Court (Cantil-Sakauye, C.J.; Kruger, J., concurring; Liu, Cuellar, & Stewart, JJ., dissenting); July 2, 2018; 2018 Cal. LEXIS 4704