I'd Bet Ted Cruz Will Start Supporting Section 230 Once He Realizes He's On The Hook For Parler's Legal Expenses

from the put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is,-ted dept

Senator Ted Cruz now loves Parler, the Twitter alternative that a bunch of Trump fans mistakenly believe won't moderate content. We've already shown that's false. However, there's another issue with Parler that some are calling out -- which is that you run a risk if you agree to that site's user agreement, because of the following that is buried as #14 on the user agreement:

You agree to defend and indemnify Parler, as well as any of its officers, directors, employees, and agents, from and against any and all claims, actions, damages, obligations, losses, liabilities, costs or debt, and expenses (including but not limited to all attorneys fees) arising from or relating to your access to and use of the Services. Parler will have the right to conduct its own defense, at your expense, in any action or proceeding covered by this indemnity.

Now, as we've discussed in the past, many social media sites have indemnity clauses, though they're often much more limited (also, in looking now, I'm pleasantly surprised that it looks like a few have removed indemnity clauses altogether -- I can't find one in Twitter or Tumbler's current terms for example). We've also discussed why people should be wary of many indemnity claims.

Parler's indemnity clause was first called out by @TheWolfLawayer on Twitter, and then later by The Verge's Editor in Chief, Nilay Patel, who called it a "reverse 230 clause."

I wouldn't quite call it a "reverse 230 clause" and I think that some of the screaming about this clause is a bit overblown (again, many other platforms have similar indemnity clauses, though many are at least a bit more limited to situations where the users actually violated some law).

However, this clause should make Ted Cruz and every other Parler user huge supporters of Section 230. Now, we already know that Cruz hates Section 230, has misinterpreted it frequently, and has supported calls to get rid of it, falsely believing that this will somehow stop content moderation from being used against Nazis or something.

But here's the thing: since Ted Cruz is now on the hook if anyone sues Parler over Ted Cruz's speech on that platform... well, then Ted Cruz might want to become a big supporter of Section 230 right quick. Because it will be Section 230 that gets such a lawsuit tossed out quickly and relatively inexpensively. Without Section 230 -- even if the case is frivolous -- Parler's legal fees (by which, thanks to this legal agreement, we mean Ted Cruz's legal fees) would be much, much higher, because the lack of 230 would create a procedural mess, which would likely extend any court case greatly, and rack up Cruz's legal fees.

This is not to suggest that anyone should or would file such a lawsuit against Parler, but seeing how many misdirected cases we've seen filed against sites like Twitter over users' speech on that platform, it wouldn't be surprising if Parler eventually faces similar such lawsuits. And, if that's the case, any of its users (including Cruz) will then be in deep shit if they don't have 230 helping to reduce their legal liability.

So, Ted, maybe drop the nonsense and the lying about 230, and recognize: Section 230 protects you too, especially given your new favorite social media's excessive terms of service.

Filed Under: indemnification, legal fees, section 230, ted cruz
Companies: parler


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  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 30 Jun 2020 @ 8:09am

    Thank Parler for the road map.

    Let's see, five steps to an attitude reversal on § 230.

    1. Ted Cruz and/or any other congresscritter posts something actionable.

    2. Someone sues Parler (under the deep pocket theory) for that post.

    3. Parler racks up big legal fees and sends Ted Cruz and/or other congresscritter a huge bill.

    4. Ted Cruz and/or other congresscritter throws hissy fit.

    5. § 230 is ensconced in its current form until another unread politician dislikes another's speech.

    Dear Ted,

    Please start posting your diatribes. Given your history it won't be long until this road map is put to work.

    Sincerely

    More Reasonable People

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Jun 2020 @ 9:40am

      Re: Thank Parler for the road map.

      Unfortunately it's more likely to be:

      1. Law is passed to make it so you cannot sue a politician for comments made whilst an elected official.

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

    • icon
      hij (profile), 30 Jun 2020 @ 11:26am

      Re: Thank Parler for the road map.

      The folks at Parler know what side their bread is buttered. The probability that they would go after a high profile member like Sen. Cruz is likely quite low. It is the smaller fish in those waters that need to be worried.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 30 Jun 2020 @ 12:57pm

        Re: Re: Thank Parler for the road map.

        They might not intentionally do so, but I imagine that if a few other users had to foot the site's legal fees pointing out that not all animals are being treated equally could be quite awkward for the site.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jun 2020 @ 10:32am

    many other platforms have similar indemnity clauses, though many are at least a bit more limited to situations where the users actually violated some law

    Do you have an example of that? Every click-through agreement I've seen that mentions indemnity is as broad as this one. (The Free Software Foundation's written agreement for copyright transfer does say "Developer is not obliged to defend FSF against any spurious claim of adverse ownership…"—the only time I've seen any such thing.)

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

  • icon
    PeterV (profile), 30 Jun 2020 @ 11:15am

    Asking a republican to drop the nonsense and to quit lying would result in them never being heard from again, not that it would be a ad thing, just saying.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jun 2020 @ 11:42am

    Fuck him! Let him get the bill first, then let him realise what a boon 230 is and what a prick he keeps making of himself by trying to destroy it! As is so often the case, when actually affected by something, or the lack of, is when the lies and bullshit often go away and the truth is acknowledged!

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 30 Jun 2020 @ 1:15pm

    Ah sweet schadenfreude...

    Few things will be so sweet than if someone who ragged on how terrible 230 was and how tyrannical social media companies are ends up on the hook for the legal fees of a social media platform, legal fees that will only be kept 'low' thanks to the law they hated so much.

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 30 Jun 2020 @ 7:08pm

    Parler, the Great Honey Pot. Now we know the real reason they are asking for your social security number...

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

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 1 Jul 2020 @ 12:33am

      You know this raises another question

      This being the golden age of haxxorz, I wonder if Parler's databases are secured under the level of encryption and access-control that is typical for large corporations entrusted with that kind of data (which is to say, not enough.)

      What's better than a honeypot? A honeypot with plausible deniability.

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

  • icon
    NaBUru38 (profile), 1 Jul 2020 @ 12:16pm

    Excuse my lack of understanding. Are you sure that Section 230 protects website users? I thought that it protected websites from users, not viceversa.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 1 Jul 2020 @ 12:59pm

      Re:

      Indirectly, but yes, by not holding sites liable for user content the sites can be less strict in what they allow as otherwise they would be much more likely to remove/block anything that even might be questionable.

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


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