Woman Sues Facebook After Getting Banned

from the that's-not-how-this-works dept

Michael Scott points us to a story of a woman who not only drove from Maryland to California to go to Facebook’s offices to complain about having her account banned, but (when that didn’t get the account reinstated) then she sued the site for the ban. Facebook says she was banned for harassing others. The woman, Karen Beth Young, says she was just promoting causes she was interested in, and, in doing so, friending lots of people (about 4,000 by the time the account was closed). She claims the ban violated her constitutional rights… and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The constitutional claim is almost certainly a non-starter. As a company, Facebook certainly has the right to ban pretty much anyone it wants to ban. The ADA claim also seems like it won’t go very far, but as Eric Goldman notes, with so much ADA litigation, there’s always a chance that “a court could have sympathy for the plaintiff.” In this case, she’s claiming that she has a bipolar disorder, and Facebook “does not provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities,” like her. But that implies the problem was with her mental health issues, rather than her actions on the site. This seems like yet another case of someone saying that if they don’t like something it must be against the law… even when that’s not the case at all.

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Comments on “Woman Sues Facebook After Getting Banned”

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Anonymous Coward says:


Facebook is not under any obligation to observe Title II and Title III of ADA because it only applies to Public Facilities.

However, where it gets sticky is if Facebook qualifies under Title III as a “Public Accommodations (and Commercial Facilities)”. It depends if Facebook uses so-called “public data” and has been working to erode the idea of privacy. Is Facebook a “Public Commercial Facility”?

Point is, there have been cases where ADA was interpreted that companies do have to make a reasonable accommodation. Handicapped Parking, at most every store, is a result of some case in the past.

If it really bugs her, she should start a new Facebook using a Facebook Clone Script. If Facebook comes after her for infringement, it would be much more interesting.

mikez (profile) says:

Re: ADA Title III

As a special educator of 12 years, I’m not aware of any access accommodation for Bi-Polar Disorder. Bi-Polar Disorder does not have access issues, unless she’s arguing that she was banned because she’s Bi-Polar. But it seems she was banned because of her actions, which may or may not have been a result of her disorder, not because of the disorder. Her actions are not covered under ADA.

This is not an ADA issue.

Johnny Shade (profile) says:

Re: ADA Title III

The rulings that you reference all concern “physical access” to a “brick-and-mortar establishment”. This has nothing to do with that. Ms. Young can access the internet. What Ms. Young is upset about is that Facebook has exercised it’s right, under agreed upon terms and conditions, to ban her for harassment. This has nothing to do with her “constitutional” rights of the ADA

BruceLD says:


I know a few people like this…woman.

Having a “mental illness” doesn’t give you the absolute right to harass others. Otherwise, celebrity stalkers would all have the legal right to do so.

Do not be fooled. She thinks she knows precisely what she’s doing. She probably has spent her entire life believing that she knows how to control and manipulate everyone, and she probably also knows exactly how to exploit her “mental illness” in order to try to get the things that she wants. She probably also loves playing the “mental illness” card in order to have her bills paid for by taxpayers. However, the games that she’s playing are not based in reality and are all in her head, and when the “head” world comes in contact with reality she can then conveniently plead “mental illness” card and “oh poor me, I’m sick, boo-hoo. stop discriminating against poor helpless sick me.”

She’s taken it upon herself to wage this manipulation and control game on everyone that she knows and comes in contact with. However, the question remains — she thinks she’s managed to manipulate and control everyone so far, does she have the ability to actually control and manipulate a judge? This is another part of her game.

This is going to be interesting. I’m sure that with all the attention she’s getting, she’s savouring the spotlight and is getting an immense thrill out of believing that she’s controlling and manipulating the public.

Blah. I know these types all too well.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is something to watch

No, she may have a claim. Under ADA, she qualifies for protection. The Court needs to determine if it qualifies as a public place, and if Facebook is in effect discriminating by failing to remove barriers, and/or if Facebook qualifies as a “public accommodation” and if the changes are achievable.

There are several cases of interest. One most notable is National Federation of the Blind v Target.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re:

….Wow, that broad is just buckets of crazy, isn’t she? Did you see her twenty posts at the bottom of the page? At first I figured there’d be no way to deduce whether that was actually her or not, but no one can fake crazy THAT well.

Bad news: this chick seems like the kind of person who would incessently Google herself. God help us all if she turns up here….

Anonymous Coward says:

No, it's not a "Freedom of Speech" question.

“Got to love those who use the “Freedom of Speech” argument. They think it means they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want”

Sorry, but this isn’t a “Freedom of Speech” question. She’s petitioned the court for an ADA and accessibility question. And yes, in America you do have the right to petition the court, even for wacky things. Filing pro se for a case like this isn’t too smart.

As for the barriers, I don’t know what she’s asking Facebook to do. But a Forbes article reports “She used the site to help promote her cancer awareness efforts and freely admits that she friended people she did not know in real life but who she thought would be interested in the cancer awareness cause.” This caused her account to be banned. This is weird, because it seems to be exactly how Facebook is used by many PR groups, businesses and bands.


Anonymous Coward says:

“Please ban people with sever bi-polar disorder… even psychiatrists don’t want to deal with them.”

Indeed. I just ran a query against my comment database, and there are no less than 180 comments about something regarding being bipolar. I hope each and every one of those people get banned. Those screwballs. The whole lot of ’em!

Wait, let me revise that to 178. In the 180th comment, someone said that “Kentucky was Bipolar”, and another ass was calling Mike out; saying that he practices “…the usual bipolar claptrap…”.

Anonymous Coward says:

What is the real issue?

Hmm. It looks like her main complaint is that she can’t access or export her raw Facebook information.

She has no intent to re-start a new account. I can understand why Facebook would keep that from happening. Still, using ADA as a way to get your information is weird, even a bit wacky. If the nutcases want their info that badly and drive cross-country and then file a case under ADA, there’s a gap. So should data portability be expected and/or legislated?

Anonymous Coward says:

A little blurb about ADA in schools vs business

>>As a special educator of 12 years, I’m not aware of any access accommodation for Bi-Polar Disorder.

Special Ed accommodations apply if the school receives federal moneies. Bipolar disorder is considered a disorder and it would need to be documented how it ultimately translates to a learning disability. If your an educator in a charter or private school, it’s possible that ADA accommodations may not necessarily apply. Bipolar disorder is considered a disorder recognized by DSM and it would need to be documented how it ultimately translates into a learning disability for

As for any accommodations in an education environment, it would be worked out in the student’s IEP or Individual Education Plan.


In this situation, it may still fall under Title III. If she has a claim, I believe it would fall under the Office of Civil Rights jurisdiction, and not Ed.gov.

Gyffes says:

Yep, she's fekkin' whacked

What a nutcase. I love the string of comments.. either pure nutcase or well-faked, either way, I can’t wait ’til she finds her way here. You all who mocked her misery and selflessness in turning in that mean and vicious 83-year old man, you’ll get yours. Just wait ’til she’s flooding your inboxes with her vitriol and spite…. oooh, and the lawsuits that’re coming your way! you mean and naughty people.

Jaszmin (profile) says:


It is Facebook that is harassing legions of its members. You’re surprised at first that the promoters of a ‘social network’ are so unfriendly. But FB promotes a rigid definition of social on its website. Critical newsletters like this one are unaware of what lengths FB will go to prevent users from assembling friends in the thousands. If you’ve been to the world of serial friend adders, you know this is going on. But to most critics including techdirt, FB is an abstraction, an idea they write about. They’ve never been inside where the FB harassment of its members takes place. Facebook harasses its serial adders by claiming they are harassing other FB members. What form does that harassment take: simply asking to add someone as a friend. Deep in the serial adder universe are thousands with 5,000 friends, but no more than that, many of them from England. When you try to add someone who has asked to become your friend, who is already nearing 5,000, you’re often told “this member already has enough friends!” And thats the end of that. Sometimes you’re told that when the FB member doesn’t have that many friends. New serial adders are finding that since FB allowed all those Brits to reach 5,000, they’ve set a new lower upper limit, at 3,500. FB’s complaints that FB adders are harassing other FB members is a fiction. You ask once, and if there’s no response, that’s the end of it. FB’s charges against serial adders are hypocrisy masking their true intentions. Serial Adders meet other serial adders inside Facebook, reeling from the clubbings meted out by FB. With 500 million members, FB has an interest in keeping the size of each member’s web space, daily keystrokes, and general facilities use within limits. The business about harassing other FB members is a fraud. There’s a critical new film coming out soon based on the minor issue of a contract between the FB Founder and a partner at Harvard. The 26 year old Founder is struggling to keep his own privacy out of bounds in the court case. But the real issue surrounding facebook will gradually become the harassment of members by facebook itself that is going on behind the scenes. FB is already way too big. Facebook has been playing with fire since beginning this venture. The FB management will have to establish more and more limits or their growth will stop. I believe their growth WILL STOP before their numbers reach those of the populations of India and China. Facebook members will grow tired of the growing restrictions. Many of them won’t be marching anymore.

karenbethyoung says:

Thanks for helping to share a different perspective Jaszmine. This lawsuit was never my intention, but it is important for other issues to be addressed. I will never regret friending a woman who had suicidal thoughts and then turned to hope with the establishment of a mathematical research forum and discussion forum. The contributions on those pages and all of the others included all walks of life. I hope people try to look at things with greater resolve. They should do so, not on behalf of me or anyone else, but on behalf of the children of the next generation. At the very least, they deserve more and they deserve better. We only have one planet and life is way too short.
Best wishes, Karen

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