Eric Goldman has come across an amazing pro se lawsuit [PDF] being brought by Nicholas C. Georgalis, an aggrieved social media user who believes he's owed an open platform in perpetuity, no matter what awful things he dumps onto service providers' pages. Oh, and he wants Section 230 immunity declared unconstitutional.
Georgalis -- who sidelines as a "professional training professionals" when not filing stupid lawsuits -- is suing Facebook for periodically placing him in social media purgatory after removing posts of his. The lawsuit is heady stuff. And by "heady stuff," I mean we're going to be dealing with a lot of arguments about "sovereign rights" and "common law" and other related asshattery.
Here's the opening. And it only gets better/worse from there:
Now comes Plaintiff in suit in a court of law holding Facebook, Inc, Defendant, liable for willfully and with malice aforethought abrogating the priceless, God given, and thus inalienable right to free Speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and the inalienable right to due process as guaranteed under the First and Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution respectively…
Plaintiff has standing through Defendant's repeated, prolonged, and unconstitutional blocking, and otherwise restricting with great aplomb, Plaintiff's ability to post his public comments which include, but are not limited to political opinions, philosophical observations, cultural observations, religious and scientific observations, and ideas on Defendant's publicly offered and universally available electronic platform. Such ideas and opinions are the private property of Plaintiff and not to be taken without due process by anyone including Defendant.
This is the first time I've seen it argued that a private corporation's moderation decisions are a Fifth Amendment violation. Nonetheless, that's what we're dealing with. Georgalis has been temp-banned repeatedly and had posts removed. Well, let's take a look at the value Georgalis is adding to the Facebook platform.
[O.J.] simpson - more proof that you can take a darkie out of the jungle but you can't take the jungle out of the darkie.
The Negroid evolved from lower animals while God created the Caucasoid and the Mongoloid evolved from the the Caucasoid. This find merely proves that the modern human visited Africa after the Creation.
I agree with the fact that this proposed union will taint the blood of the Royal Family. Miscegenation of this sort is akin to bestiality and thus an affront to God and to man. It is a threat to the survival of mankind. It must not stand.
That's just a taste of the stuff that's still live. The lawsuit provides no detail on the posts Facebook has found offensive enough to remove. Georgalis is a Trump fan (he often refers to Trump as a capital-K "King") and an obvious bigot. That he receives a lot of direct moderation from Facebook isn't surprising. But Georgalis somehow believes deep in his sovereign, bigoted heart that Facebook should never take action against his account or Facebook posts.
Here's how he explains it:
Defendant has repeatedly denied and thus silenced Plaintiff ability to express his opinion on Defendant's publicly and universally available electronic forums which said opinions or comments Defendant disagrees or finds otherwise objectionable. Indeed Defendant has had the audacity to remove content posted by Plaintiff that Defendant did not like and thus erasing his written words, which are his property, from the sight and memory of man and the eyes of posterity. In so doing Defendant promotes his political, cultural, religious, philosophical, and economic opinions and ideas above all others and at the expense of Plaintiff's before the voting public…
Georgalis' Section 230 argument is just as bad as everything proceeding it. To sum up (because direct quoting would eat up pages of text and valuable real estate in readers' brains), Georgalis argues the immunity provided to service providers by Section 230 means they should never have to practice moderation. If they're immune from civil liability for end users' posts and actions, they shouldn't take action ever against third-party content. Georgalis targets Section 230 (2)(A) specifically -- the part that states ISPs will not be held liable for voluntary moderation efforts. In Georgalis' eyes, this elevates Facebook, et al into proxy censors of unpopular speech and somehow confers sovereign status to social media platforms. Georgalis' twisted legal argument comes to the conclusion that Section 230 is a violation of the "separation of powers enshrined in the enumerated powers of the US Constitution." Therefore: unconstitutional.
And then the lawsuit goes on for another dozen pages, which deploy even more ridiculous arguments in an attempt to talk the court into viewing social media companies as extensions of the government. This becomes even more cognitively dissonant when Georgalis' favored political leader and party are running the country. His "king" is somehow using Section 230 to shut down opinions the government doesn't like, even if his opinions are probably of the sort the current government does like. Go figure.
Total damages requested are $1 billion. Because you can't put a price tag on free speech. But if you do have to come up with an estimate, be insanely ridiculous about it. This damage award is buttressed by arguments that government taxation and liberal social policies have stifled the US economy so much Georgalis would be almost 80 times as wealthy as he currently is. Or something.
The punitive damages are also supported by the fact that the statist and stoic philosophy and ideology and Keynesian economics promulgated by the Defendant as earnestly implemented by the US governance, education and other institutions since 1930 has led to tremendous economic losses. Exhibit 1 presents an analysis of the extent of the damage done to the US economy by the statist and stoic ideology espoused by Defendant wherein the 2016 GDP would have been almost 80 times larger in constant dollars.
To add the final inadvertent lol to Georgalis' stupid lawsuit, he's appended a copyright notice to every page of the filing claiming no one can copy or reproduce it without his written permission. You'll note the lawsuit is linked above and embedded below. It's also quoted as extensively as I could stomach. So... ball's in your common law court, Nick.
This suit won't go anywhere and it will add to the number of times the state has beaten Georgalis at his own game. Georgalis -- after losing a defamation lawsuit where he admitted the "libelous" statements made about him were factually true -- tried to have an Ohio court rule that summary judgment rulings were unconstitutional. Check this out:
Ohio Civil Rule 56, Summary Judgment is unconstitutional because it deprives litigants, in the instant case Plaintiffs/Appellants, the constitutional right to trial by jury. Accordingly it violates Article 1.05 of the Ohio Constitution which plainly and unequivocally states that "The right of trial by jury shall be inviolate... " Ohio Civil Rule 56 endows powers upon the court that were never intended by the authors of the Ohio Constitution and the people of the State of Ohio who ratified the constitution. Summary judgment usurps the constitutional power of the jury to decide the facts in a case and instead unconstitutionally endows the judge with these powers, powers that the judge was never intended to have.
Georgalis appears to believe he's continually being deprived of due process, even when he's engaged in civil litigation. The Fifth Amendment only covers criminal cases. He also believes the state should waste more money paying jurors, judges, and lawyers to ensure every ridiculous lawsuit gets presented to a jury. I can't see how he squares this with his small government assertions. (This filing probably has more to do with him being on the hook for appellate fees from his failed defamation lawsuit than any pure notion of constitutionality.)
Then there's Georgalis' multiple battles with public entities over the release of certain information. It appears Georgalis has asked several states to hand over info on registered engineers, including their email addresses. His appeal to the state of Delaware was denied by the attorney general, who pointed out Georgalis hardly has the public interest in mind when demanding info on licensed engineers.
Here, DAPE (Delaware Association of Professional Engineers) does not dispute that the right to privacy may be outweighed by the public interest in disclosure. Rather, DAPE argues that your request is a clear attempt to further your private commercial interest and in no way contributes to the public understanding of the activities of the government. DAPE notes that you are a developer and instructor of training courses, which you make available to professional engineers for a fee, and argues that you are using FOIA to obtain the email addresses of private citizens who meet the target audience of your product for sale.
This suit will be tossed and undoubtedly Georgalis will mark this up to the government protecting its own -- even if the current government is the government he desires and "its own" is a private corporation that provides a social media service it can moderate however it wants without troubling the Constitution.