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Does the Roomates.com Case Affect CDA § 230 Immunity for JuicyCampus?

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9 Responses

  1. Scote says:

    I would have thought the biggest problem with the ruling is that roomates.com is a service to find people to share a dwelling, a situation where I thought it is legal to discriminate, unlike renting a unit with separate access.

  2. Scote -

    That very well may be – but that’s a question on the merits, which you never reach if the site is immune.

  3. scote says:

    Thanks.

    I’d just assumed that whether or not Roomates.com provided separate dwellings would play into it, since, for instance, a site about dating can ask about race and gender but wouldn’t have been prosecuted because, well, the don’t provide housing.

  4. Solove is correct. JuicyCampus’s Section 230 immunity is not affected by the Roommates.com opinion because JuicyCampus does not ask or require users to post specific, unlawful content.

  5. Dave says:

    Scote,

    Michael is right that the section 230 immunity issue could moot the underlying question about housing discrimination. However, if it did not, Roommates.com would by no means be off the hook.

    Even though it is true that the “Mrs. Murphy” exception to the FHA permits discrimination in certain scenarios (e.g., selecting a roommate), it has the peculiar feature of banning all advertising about discriminatory preferences–even those that it allows in practice. Under the FHA, someone can lawfully choose to reject all potential roommate applicants except Malaysians, but they cannot run an ad that says “Malaysians only need apply”.

  6. WL says:

    I haven’t used Roommates.com, but couldn’t they have saved themselves the trouble by offering a “no preference/decline to answer” option on their drop-down menus? People seeking housing who selected this could have then by default received ALL listings matching their otherwise non-demographic criteria. It would then be up to the people offering housing to exercise their “Mrs. Murphy” exception if they so choose. From what I understand, the court’s beef is not so much the attitude of discrimination but the fact that seekers were denied the opportunity to see the possibly discriminatory ads.

  7. WL says:

    I haven’t used Roommates.com, but couldn’t they have saved themselves the trouble by offering a “no preference/decline to answer” option on their drop-down menus? People seeking housing who selected this could have then by default received ALL listings matching their otherwise non-demographic criteria. It would then be up to the people offering housing to exercise their “Mrs. Murphy” exception if they so choose. From what I understand, the court’s beef is not so much the attitude of discrimination but the fact that seekers were denied the opportunity to see the possibly discriminatory ads.

  8. MRL says:

    Does anyone have a copy of the original complaints against Roommates.com?

    Curious to see what exhibits, if any, were attached to the complaint in terms of the various theories of liability.

    Thanks in advance for any leads,

    MRL

  9. MRL says:

    Does anyone have a copy of the original complaints against Roommates.com?

    Curious to see what exhibits, if any, were attached to the complaint in terms of the various theories of liability.

    Thanks in advance for any leads,

    MRL