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.