Key context: Berenson, an outspoken critic of the government’s response to the pandemic, sued Twitter after the company kicked him off the site for portraying Covid vaccines as an advanced therapeutic with risky side effects. The complaint got its first preliminary hearing in federal court in San Francisco on Thursday.
Decision: Alsup focused its ruling on Berenson’s allegations that the company changed ground rules about what content Twitter would allow on its platform, despite assurances from an executive that its posts were not censored.
“Collectively, these actions are presumably viewed as a clear and unambiguous promise that Twitter would properly enforce its COVID-19 misinformation policy and attempt to provide notice if it suspended the Complainant’s account,” Alsup wrote in its decision.
He also noted that “[a]Any ambiguities in a contract such as Twitter’s Terms of Service are construed against the Editor, Twitter.
However, he said the powerful protections of Section 230 are broad enough to shield Twitter from Berenson’s other allegations, including the claim that the company violated his First Amendment free speech rights.
“For an internet platform like Twitter, Section 230 excludes liability to remove content and prevent the posting of content that the platform believes would cause harm to its users, such as misinformation regarding COVID- 19,” Alsup wrote.