Remember the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roommate.com LLC? How could you forget.
Plaintiff fair-housing groups had charged Roommate.com with Fair Housing Act violations in connection with its online questionnaires and member profiles. This past May a three-judge Ninth Circuit panel ruled that Section 230 does not immunize Roommate.com for all of the content on its website and in its email newsletters. Specifically, the panel concluded that Roommate was “responsible” for its questionnaires because it created or developed the forms and answer choices (rendering the website a content provider of the questionnaires). Explaining that it did not read Carafano “as granting CDA immunity to those who actively encourage, solicit and profit from the tortious and unlawful communications of others,” the panel also ruled that
[b]y categorizing, channeling and limiting the distribution of users’ profiles, Roommate provides an additional layer of information that it is “responsible” at least “in part” for creating or developing.
The decision thus left Roommate.com exposed to potential FHA liability for its questionnaires and user profiles. But that may change.