Grindr will not be held liable for the harassment experienced by user Matthew Herrick, a US federal appeals court has ruled.
The plaintiff brought a product liability case against the GBTQ dating app after fake profiles depicting him were made by an ex-partner. The ex-partner used these profiles to solicit “rough, unprotected sex, orgies, and drugs” to Herrick’s home address.
Over 1,000 men responded to the solicitation, putting Herrick in significant danger. Attorney Tor Ekeland sought to hold the dating app responsible.
The case was originally dismissed under section 230 of the US Communications Decency Act, which protects platforms from responsibility for user generated content. Ekeland then argued that the Communications Decency Act may not apply to Grindr, as it may not technically meet the legal criteria for classification as an “interactive computer service”.
This was also dismissed, however. Ekeland has since said: “What happened to Matthew is not an isolated incident.
“Apps are being used to stalk, rape and murder. Under the court’s reading of the CDA, big tech companies don’t have responsibility to do anything about it, even if they know it is happening. Congress needs to amend this statute.”
Moez Kaba, a lawyer for Grindr, said the decision to exonerate the service was “important in the smartphone era, where so much activity is done on apps rather than through traditional web pages.
“No one disputes that the plaintiff’s situation was unfortunate,” he added, “but the 2nd Circuit was plainly correct in finding that apps and their owners cannot be liable for this sort of third-party conduct.”
Earlier this week, Reuters reported that Grindr umbrella Kunlun Tech will likely be forced to sell the platform following pressure from the US Government.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) reportedly informed Kunlun that its ownership of Grindr constitutes a national security risk. The news comes shortly after Huawei became engulfed in a similar controversy.
Read more here.