Twitter’s promise of free speech isn’t false advertising just because it suspends abusive users

Kimbrell v. Twitter Inc., 2018 WL 6025609, No.
18-cv-04144-PJH (N.D. Cal. Nov. 16, 2018)
Kimbrell alleged that “Twitter employs twitter trolls who
are responsible for goading Twitter users who support President Donald Trump
into engaging in purportedly abusive conduct, which Twitter subsequently uses
as a basis for banning those pro-Trump Twitter users,” contrary to Twitter
holding itself out to be a “free and open” platform.  Allegedly, she replied to a @realDonaldTrump
tweet with a “history of progressive talking points and where they originated.”
Twitter’s trolls allegedly targeted plaintiff, who responded with tweets that used @ (apparently to respond to other commenters in the thread) and, somewhat incoherently, called at least some of them [presumably not Trump] “loons,” “F**King trolls,” “idiots,” “crybaby losers,” and some other stuff.
Twitter then suspended her account for abusive behavior [hey, could we get that done for misogynist trolls? asking for a friend], and
then made the suspension permanent for targeted abuse. Kimbrell alleged that
“abuse” was defined by Twitter employees to mean tweets that “disagree[ ] with
them politically … with the ultimate goal [of] suspend[ing] every POTUS
supporter by targeting their accounts.”
The allegations, which dodged 230 because they were about Twitter’s own statements, didn’t make out a claim of false advertising
under California law.  While Twitter’s Rules
say that Twitter “believe[s] in freedom of expression and open dialogue,” that
sentence goes on to say “we prohibit behavior that crosses the line into
abuse[.]” “That is not likely to deceive a reasonable consumer into believing
that Twitter did not retain the right to suspend users who ‘cross the line into
abuse.’” Separately and independently, Kimbrell lacked standing for want of an
alleged economic injury.  The same
problems prevented her from stating a claim under Illinois law.

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