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Google, YouTube Score Win in Section 230 Account Removal Case

Aug. 17, 2020, 4:27 PM

YouTube LLC can’t be held liable for claims of false advertising and unfair competition stemming from its removal of a supplement company’s videos and accounts, a federal district court ruled.

Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted YouTube and parent company Google’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit Friday, writing that they were protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

The law protects social media companies from legal liability in the good-faith removal of objectionable content hosted on their platforms.

Enhanced Athlete Inc. sued the technology giants in December after its videos and accounts were taken down. Some of Enhanced Athlete’s videos contained information about steroid-like selective androgen receptor modulators, or SARMs, according to the opinion. SARMs are marketed as a tool to help build muscle, but they are unregulated and haven’t been approved for human consumption by the FDA.

Google and YouTube said the videos and accounts promoted “violent or dangerous acts” that carried inherent risks of harm or death, something Enhanced Athlete alleged was a “boilerplate” response.

Enhanced Athlete had alleged that the tech companies didn’t act in good faith because its videos complied with YouTube’s terms of use and community guidelines. The supplements company further alleged that YouTube didn’t provide a “coherent explanation” as to why its videos and accounts were removed.

But Enhanced Athlete signed a terms of use agreement saying YouTube can delete content as it sees fit, and the supplements company failed to state a claim for breach of the “implied covenant of good faith,” Gilliam wrote.

Enhanced Athlete’s lawyer didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The case is: Enhanced Athlete Inc. v. Google LLC, N.D. Cal., No. 19-cv-8260, opinion filed 8/14/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jake Holland in Washington at jholland@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Renee Schoof at rschoof@bloombergindustry.com; Keith Perine at kperine@bloomberglaw.com

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