Blaming Facebook For A User's Content Is The Least Crazy Thing About This Lawsuit

from the lawsuit-almost-as-embarrassing-as-the-content dept

There are many proper ways to file a lawsuit. Then there's this one. (h/t Eric Goldman)

This is a case about one of the most powerful corporations in the world, a corporation that maliciously recreated obscene or pornographic sexual content on a personal profile account named "Franco CaraccioliJerkingman" (hereinafter as JERKINGMAN ACCOUNT or "Account"), inside its online digital community (hereinafter as "Website") because in Exhibit 1 (hereinafter as "Admission") Defendant Facebook ADMITS that after Defendant Facebook "REVIEWED" JERKINGMANT ACCOUNT which contained blatant pornographic obscenity, and recklessly "DETERMINED" that it was legitimate lawful content and NOT in violation of its community standards, thus, Defendant Facebook recreated, sponsored, republished, and/or acted as a speaker of the content by deciding to continue displaying it as opposed to deleting it.
Got that? Someone (someone not named in the suit as a defendant) managed to obtain video/photos of Caraccioli, um, jerking, and uploaded it to a Facebook account under the name of Franco CaraccioliJerkingman. This sounds more like revenge porn than defamation (one of the many causes of action raised in the complaint) and it sounds like Caraccioli might have a legitimate complaint against the original poster -- possibly even a criminal complaint -- but has chosen to go after Facebook instead.

Nowhere in the suit is the person who actually uploaded the content mentioned. The lawsuit "names" Does 1-10, but they are apparently unknown employees of Facebook.
Defendant is a corporation registered in the California Secretary of State as FACEBOOK, INC., and DOES 1 through 10… are located in their with its primary place of business at 1601 S. California Ave. Palo Alto, CA 94304.
In case that seems a bit unclear (and large chunks of the 38-page filing verge on unintelligible), there's more evidence in the latter pages of the complaint that indicate Caraccioli is only targeting Facebook and its employees.
At all times mentioned in this complaint, Mr. Caraccioli is informed and believes, and based thereon alleges. that DEFENDANT FACEBOOK, Inc., negligently and carelessly trained and retained its employees including, but not limited to, Does 1 through 10.

[...]

DEFENDANT FACEBOOK negligently failed to investigate the background of DEFENDANT FACEBOOK employees including, but not limited to, Does 1 through 10 in order to prevent republication of sexual or otherwise unlawful content in the DEFENDANT FACEBOOK's Website.
So, there's that. The plaintiff holds Facebook solely responsible for content posted by others. He seems to feel that Facebook's refusal to remove the content should undercut its Section 230 protections. He also claims Facebook is a "publisher," a legal strategy that may work elsewhere (like Canada) but not in the US.

On top of all of this, Caraccioli has filed his lawsuit in the wrong jurisdiction (federal rather than local), something that's pointed out by the judge's order to show cause. The order points out that the plaintiff has raised ten causes of action, not one of which implicates federal law. The complaint's obsession with Section 230 protections doesn't automatically turn this into a federal case, despite his invocation of a federal statute.
Perhaps in recognition of this deficiency, Plaintiff alleges in the FAC’s jurisdictional statement that “this case involves substantial issues of federal law involving the Communications Decency Act 47 U.S.C. § 230.” See FAC, at ¶ 23. But that allegation, and the discussion of the statute in other areas of the FAC, is still not enough for Plaintiff to satisfy his obligation to establish federal jurisdiction. This is because § 230, which generally works to immunize providers of interactive computer services against liability arising from content created by third parties, is not a claim for relief asserted by Plaintiff. Instead, it is a potential affirmative defense to Plaintiff’s claims, no matter its artful inclusion in the FAC. Affirmative defenses are not proper bases for federal jurisdiction.
That paragraph guts a great deal of Caraccioli's arguments, most of which shouldn't be made by your average pro se petitioner, much less a third-year law student. The complaint recycles arguments when not devolving into the needless convolutions often displayed when complainants mistake complexity and long-windedness for unassailable assertions.

Caraccioli maintains he was made aware of the Jerkingman account when the account sent him a friend request. This invitation was apparently sent to many of Caraccioli's friends and family members as well -- many of whom viewed the page and verbally promised Caraccioli they would report it to Facebook. Facebook reviewed the account's content and took no action, saying that it didn't violate any of its policies.

Caraccioli claims this simply can't be true, because it contained explicit video and photographs. As such, his complaint views Facebook's lack of action as an admission of guilt. Either it didn't actually review the content or it willfully allowed forbidden content to go untouched. (Pages added to the first draft of Caraccioli's amended complaint show Facebook recommending he "unfriend" or "unfollow" the Jerkingman account if he was unhappy with its posts.)

From there Caraccioli goes everywhere, but mostly after the Section 230 protections he feels Facebook nullified by not immediately deleting the Jerkingman account.

Now, I'm sure the subject matter of the uploaded videos continues to weigh heavily on Caraccioli's mind, but his repeated assertions about this presumed inapplicability of Section 230 contains some rather… suggestive phrasing. (All spelling errors from the original.)
Taking affirmative steps to review sexually explicit pornographic videos and images and determining that the content is in accordance with or following DEFENDANT FACEBOOK'S "Terms of Service," is at best a conscious, gross negligent, intentional, willful or wonton, or RECKLESS DISREGARD towards DEFENDANT FACEBOOK'S own "Terms of Service" and in violation of the legislative intent thrusting the CDA because children could and did in fact view the sexual obscene content in a place that is not protected or reserved for sexual content.
One should be careful to put as much distance between "thrusting" and "children" as possible when composing paragraphs about the unauthorized posting of masturbatory footage. Other mistakes -- like confusing deliberate or unprovoked action with a takeout staple -- are more easily forgiven.

To sum up multiple pages of identical allegations, Caraccioli asserts that Facebook should have removed the content as soon as it was notified because it was a "per se violation" of its Terms and Services. While other content (say, female nipples) may be open to debate, there was apparently no questioning what was happening in these videos.
Mr. Caraccioli kindly reminds this court that DEFENDANT FACEBOOK engaged in RECKLESS and MALICIOUS undertakings or steps in "reviewing" actual pornographic content and "determined" it was not obscene, because unless one is blind, pornographic content should be self-evident, especially if the words JERKINGMAN precede it's content.
Indeed.

This is followed by a defamation "cause of action." If the truth is the ultimate defense in the face of defamation allegations, where does that leave actual footage of someone performing a sexual act on themselves -- something openly admitted in the complaint by the plaintiff? Well, according to Caraccioli, some facts are defamatory, especially when they're somehow "false" facts.
The entire JERKINGMAN ACCOUNT was false as it pertains to Mr. Caraccioli in name, imagery, and display and diminished his reputation based on the mock and ridicule he experienced.
Now, Caraccioli may have suffered a diminished reputation, but it wasn't because of false statements. He suffered these actionable injuries because someone made something presumably private public. These are not the same thing. But there will be no letting the wind out of Caraccioli's overfilled sails.
The JERKINGMAN account was libelous on its face because it clearly exposed Mr. Caraccioli to hatred, contempt, ridicule and obloquy. Further, the JERKINGMAN ACCOUNT's content was pertaining to Mr. Caraccioli's privacy and involved extremely sensitive material under a reasonable person standard because any person holds their genitalia as a private part due to is sensitive material.
Again, Caraccioli's phrasing is, unfortunately, a bit too on the nose.

The whole complaint is worth reading, if only as an extremely comprehensive example of how not to compose a civil complaint. The sad fact is that this third-year law student felt confident enough in his own legal prowess to act as his own attorney… and then proceeded to file a bloated disasterpiece loaded with misspellings, grammatical errors, severely-flawed legal theories and all in the wrong jurisdiction.




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  1. icon
    Rich Fiscus (profile), 30 Sep 2015 @ 2:48pm

    You laugh at this guy, but this is a brilliant career move. How many lawyers can tell stories about their first moron client before finishing law school?

    At this rate, he'll be ready to go full Rakofsky in another month or two. If he plays his cards right, he could have Marc Randazza's boot print permanently imprinted on his ass before he takes the bar exam.

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