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  • Eye Opening
  • Overview


Websites like RipoffReport.com – which host content third-party users produce – rely upon the Internet free speech protections laid out in Section 230 of the US Communications Decency Act of 1996. But should companies truly bear no liability for libelous claims posted on their pages? Bloomberg Businessweek investigative reporter Dune Lawrence examines how RipoffReport.com uses Section 230 provisions to defend itself against litigation and turn a profit from defamation victims. Lawrence further explores how recent court decisions may soon lead to limits on Section 230 protections. getAbstract recommends this article to small business owners, lawyers and policy makers.


When allegations about Dr. John Pitman III’s involvement in perjury, illegal prescription drugs and “Vegas orgies” first appeared on RipoffReport.com in 2013, the plastic surgeon requested the false claims be removed. When Ripoff refused and subsequently attempted to sell Pitman on its “reputation management services,” he sued the website. But he had a major legal hurdle to overcome: Section 230 of the US Communications Decency Act of 1996.

Section 230 protects “websites, search engines and social media platforms” from responsibility...

About the Author

Dune Lawrence is an investigative reporter for Bloomberg News and Bloomberg Businessweek magazine. He focuses on China, cybersecurity and the law.

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