Philly City Council Members Want To Sue Facebook And Twitter Over Flash Mob Snowball Fight

from the section-230 dept

And here we go again. Apparently there was recently a "flash mob" snowball fight in Philadephia that got a bit out of control, resulting in a "rampage" through a Macy's department store. Nobody was hurt, but 16 people were arrested. So how are Philly officials dealing with it? They're threatening to sue Twitter and Facebook. Seriously. Two city council members say that those companies deserve some of the blame and a lawsuit is an option:
"While [the kids] certainly owe this city an apology and deserve to be punished under the fullest extent of the law, we believe that social media outlets should also bear some of the blame." The letter, written by council members Frank DiCicco and James F. Kenney, explains that this is the second such time a band of mischievous teens has formed via social media and went on to destroy property. "We believe that the lack of monitoring of these sites allows for mass, organized riots to occur."
Hopefully someone explains to these two council members that both sites are certainly protected from liability under Section 230 of the CDA. But, more importantly, beyond just invoking those safe harbors, can someone explain to them how silly it is to blame a communication tool for how it's used? Do they want to sue the phone company when criminals use phones to plan their crimes? Do they threaten to sue the car companies when a car is used in a crime? Furthermore, if their complaint is that these sites failed to "monitor" what people were planning, then isn't the city council actually even more to blame? The content of Twitter is available to the public, and these days much of Facebook is as well (and info on such a flashmob would almost certainly be public). Then shouldn't Philadelphia officials be aware of what's being planned in their own city? Based on the reasoning of DiCicco and Kenney, perhaps they should be suing themselves for failing to monitor what kids in their city were planning on some very public forums.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    yozoo, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 12:32pm

    wow

    Good thing they didnt use thier phones to coordinate and congrigate, then who would people sue . . . ohh, nevermind.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 12:48pm

    Well by golly lets go after the manufacturers of baseball bats too, since they are used to cause so much destruction to property.

     

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  3.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 12:49pm

    Heck, this would be like me suing you for all the injuries I receive from the face-palming I do when I read this site. it's not your fault I'm injured from face-palming. You're just reporting this crap. It's the fault of the idiots like the Philly officials who actually do this crap.

     

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  4.  
    icon
    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 12:52pm

    Re: wow

    I read in another article that kids used a variety of tools to get their agenda accomplished. The list of items now deemed socially threatening are:

    Language - English ... each person is now required to speak in their own unique language that is to be understood by nobody else.

    Brains ... the government education system has spent nearly a century trying to atrophy children's brains so that they can no longer use them. Obviously the government fails another program. People are now forbidden from thinking useful thoughts.

    Computers ... each one of them used a computer. Ban the production of all computers, and impound all existing computers.

    Telecom infrastructure ... the US's own telecom system was used against it in this unparalleled attack by clumps of frozen moisture. Shut down all communications between citizens.

    Mother Nature ... she provided the ammo, that bitch.

    Obviously language, our brains, computers, and the telecom system all shoulder equal responsibility in the tragic events that unsettled a Macy's for an afternoon. Our ancestors should be ashamed of themselves for developing language ... God should be tried for giving us brains ... nothing good has ever come from a computer ... and the telecom system only enables large-scale communication.

    Fortunately, we're already taking care of Mother Nature. A couple more decades of pollution and she'll no longer be a nuisance.

     

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  5.  
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    Robert Ring (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 12:53pm

    If they had orchestrated this through snail mail, I wonder if the council members would have sued the US Post Office.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Joshy, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 12:56pm

    Why not sue the Shoe companies for enabling the kids to get to the snowball fight

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    jorge the spitting mad chimp, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 12:58pm

    not always so sunny in philly

    i've always wondered what was wrong with that city - the butt of so many jokes for obviously good reasons. philly is financially destitute, politically bereft, and yet they throw iceballs at their quarterbacks, batteries at their pitchers and now they want to sue facebook, but why not comcast too? (that's the philly cable co) and while they're at it, maybe they could go after the credit card companies for financing everything from cigarettes to prostitutes.

    oh, yeah, and it was my girlfriend's fault why i cheated on her too... figured if we were gonna go with specious reasoning i'd get that cleared up too.

     

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  8.  
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    dwind (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 1:01pm

    Why not god

    for making the snow or at least the churches his direct representatives. How about the weatherman for telling them it was going to snow? And maybe the mall developer for putting a Macys directly in their path. The list is endless.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Adam (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 1:14pm

    Question

    What exactly is an "organized riot"? "Yes, it was an organized mob that caused regulated chaos!"

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Celia, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 1:31pm

    Had the city of Philadelphia cleaned up the snow in a timely manner and sent all those kids back to school...perhaps this event could have been prevented!

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Space Pirate, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 1:50pm

    Snow!

    We should probably be suing the weather too, for having provided the ammunition.

    Also - if I'm not mistaken the first ammendment affords us all the right to assemble (peacefully) so aside from the 'assualt' of snow using twitter or facebook or any other means to gather hardly seems like an offense of any sort.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    NAMELESS.ONE, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 1:57pm

    I wonder if facebook or the net wasn't around

    WOULD these types a idiots still do stupid strange and awful stuff

    YOU BET PEOPLE its not the technology its the people
    SUE THE PEOPLE for acting like asses

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 2:00pm

    Their family misses them

    The two city council schmucks that are threatening to sue 18 kids need to go home and cook dinner for their kids and family.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 2:03pm

    Re: Their family misses them

    They're probably divorced. A few times. Paying child support.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Derek, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 2:06pm

    So... City council members think that the provider is responsible for what happens on the platform.

    Interesting that a government official would want to set that precedent.

     

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  16.  
    icon
    TheDanimal (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 2:08pm

    @Celia

    Damnit! That’s what I was going to say....

    But the point being, I'm surprised that this didn't happen in DC and Baltimore also, where the snow removal was such a problem...

    But if anything or anyone deserves to be sued, its sub-atomic particles, people! Think about it! Everything used to organize and perpetrate this crime contains sub-atomic particles: the people, the snowballs, the computers, and the links between them. You could knock this whole thing out in one suit!

     

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  17.  
    icon
    Russ (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 3:01pm

    Monitoring

    If the social networks need to be monitored, then that is a job for the police.

    What? they don't have the time or tools or money or legal justification to do that? So let's sue a private company for not doing what the police can't do.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    Phillip Vector (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 3:09pm

    Re: Question

    Yeah. That caught my eye as well.. Isn't an "Organized Riot" an oxymoron?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 3:19pm

    I wonder why they're not suing the ISPs (including the local carriers) since the network traffic went over their lines.

    Anyway, flash mobs are exactly protected under the US Constitution.

    Some people partaking of their constitutionally protected right to assemble, ended up breaking existing laws. They were arrested, they'll be tried, and, if convicted, punished.

    Politicians are *all* stupid, at least publicly. May as well give up reporting on it since we're all tired of reading about it. As the US political system goes down the tubes, taking the country with it...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 3:30pm

    I did similar things as a kid using a CB radio. No one ever sued Motorola because we were being punk kids.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    CaptainRon, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 3:30pm

    Ima Fish comment

    AWESOME! You cracked me up. Bravo for hitting the nail on the head. face-palming - I can just see it in my mind!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 3:51pm

    Re: Question

    "What exactly is an "organized riot"?"

    I would say "an army".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 4:33pm

    Re: not always so sunny in philly

    fuck off

    signed
    -philly

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    DanVan (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 4:49pm

    If facebook/twitter are used to get illegal crimes together, I have no problem with the police going after the sites

    With a snowball fight? I don't see it

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 7:55pm

    Re:

    SEPTA provided transportation for this as well.

    Being a Philadelphian in exile I can remember the police and the city government going ape shit over a few things- both MOVE confrontations are a good example. The second one ended with around three city blocks burned to the ground and I could see the fire light 30 blacks away.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    The Buzz Saw (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 7:58pm

    Huh?

    Facebook? Twitter? They may as well sue the Internet. Email and a plethora of other services could have just as simply formed a mailing list to organize this horrific snowball assault.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    :), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 11:06pm

    Playing with words.

    While [the kids] certainly owe this country[city] an apology and deserve to be punished under the fullest extent of the law, we believe that politicians[social media outlets] should also bear some of the blame." The letter, written by council members Frank DiCicco and James F. Kenney, explains that this is the second such time a band of mischievous teens has formed via governments[social media] and went on to destroy economies[property]. "We believe that the lack of monitoring of these sites allows for mass, organized riots to occur.

    While [the kids] certainly owe this city an apology and deserve to be punished under the fullest extent of the law, we believe that social gatherings outlets should also bear some of the blame." The letter, written by council members Frank DiCicco and James F. Kenney, explains that this is the second such time a band of mischievous teens has formed via social gathering and went on to destroy property. "We believe that the lack of monitoring of these sites allows for mass, organized riots to occur.

    There is a Obama, Bush, republican, democrat, government joke in there somewhere I know it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    Mr RC (profile), Feb 19th, 2010 @ 1:55am

    Re: Re:

    30 BLACKS away?

    *snort*

    Was so funny I couldn't let it go!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    matt, Feb 19th, 2010 @ 7:17am

    China and Iran Would Agree

    "We believe that the lack of monitoring of these sites allows for mass, organized riots to occur."

    China, Iran and others totally agree with you, dude!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    jorge the spitting mad chimp, Feb 19th, 2010 @ 10:00am

    Re: Re: not always so sunny in philly

    HA! more than happy to, welcome to yourself.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    mknowles, Feb 19th, 2010 @ 11:17am

    they should sue the phone companies too

    because I'll be some of these folks spoke to each other on the phone.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Katie S., May 13th, 2010 @ 12:50am

    Re:

    How would Facebook or Twitter monitor users to see if they're planning crimes? It would take unbelievable amounts of manpower to go through every message posted there (and it would be creepy from a privacy standpoint, though Facebook is rapidly proving it doesn't care about privacy anymore. . .)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    merizaa (profile), May 18th, 2010 @ 11:26am

    Kyle sent over yet another musician, named Nathan Harden, pulling out the "woe is me" schtick in an article claiming that this generation "killed rock 'n' roll." It hits on all the usual debunked points and only quotes industry sources on the major label side of the business, assumes that the only way to make money in the music business is by selling albums or songs, and doesn't even realize what a huge contradiction it makes in the process. It starts out by quoting record sales stats, but ignoring all of the recent studies that show that money hasn't gone away, it's just shifted to other SEO Consultant channels -- and those channels are ones where the actual artists get more money. It's true that the major record labels are making less -- no one denies that. But it's folly SEO Professionals to claim that this means the death of rock 'n' roll or music at all. Another recent study showed more music being Best Articles Directory released today than ever before in history. That doesn't sound like a dying industry at all. In fact, this guy effectively admits that when he complains.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    World Cup Merchandise, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 4:23am

    A fortune can visit this webpage ... Your information is very useful .... Soccer Shoes

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Kerala Tour Packages, Aug 26th, 2010 @ 3:37am

    Great

    Really great article and comments..i really enjoyed..thanks Kerala Tourism Development Corporation

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Photography Courses Newcastle, Sep 5th, 2010 @ 7:34am

    I think the council need to get a grip of life!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Littlewoods, Sep 6th, 2010 @ 11:40am

    I dont think the council will be able to sue facebook or twitter.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Kerala Packages, Sep 18th, 2010 @ 2:13pm

    really usefull

    really a fortune can visit this webpage ... Your information is very useful ..thanks Kerala Packages Kerala Honeymoon Packages Kerala Tour Packages From Pune Kerala Honeymoon Packages From Hyderabad

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    seo company , Oct 4th, 2010 @ 10:52pm

    http://www.smart-seo.co.uk/  

    Twitter and face books are used by many of the social purpose where they spread the social working of the councils.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    icon
    David (profile), Jan 7th, 2011 @ 1:27am

    Well its all depends on you because what you think is not a matter for others. Our individual effort only works. Although its awesome. Cremation Jewelry

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Home Business, Jan 7th, 2011 @ 9:31am

    Re:

    This is really interesting actually, its funny though and I agree with what you've said

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    juan, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 9:46pm

    Well its all depends on you because what you think is not a matter for others. Our individual effort only works. Although its awesome. Cremation Jewelry como bajar de peso dietas para bajar de peso en una semana shed plans

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    bjjbook, Apr 24th, 2011 @ 10:03pm

    Frank DiCicco and James F. Kenney, explains that this is the second such time a band of mischievous teens has formed via social gathering and went on to destroy property. "We believe that the lack of monitoring of these sites allows for mass, organized riots to occur. ran แรน

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Google directions, Jun 7th, 2011 @ 6:52pm

    nice

    i love this post i really dont like social sites

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Barry, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 4:18am

    Hmmm

    I wonder why they're not suing the ISPs (including the local carriers) since the network traffic went over their lines.

    Anyway, flash mobs are exactly protected under the US Constitution.

    Some people partaking of their constitutionally protected right to assemble, ended up breaking existing laws. They were arrested, they'll be tried, and, if convicted, punished.

    Politicians are *all* stupid, at least publicly. May as well give up reporting on it since we're all tired of reading about it. As the US political system goes down the tubes, taking the country with it...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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