The Meaning of “Provide”

One case raised the question of what “provide” means in the §230. In Ellen L. Batzel v. Ton Cremers, et al., the operator of a listserv and website published defamatory content provided by a third party through an email. The one who emailed said “he had had no idea that his e-mail would be posted to the listserv or put on the web.” United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that if a reasonable person concluded that  the material at issues is provided by the third party for publication, a service provider or a user should be protected by the  § 230.

“At the same time, Congress’s purpose in enacting § 230(c)(1) suggests that we must take great care in determining whether another’s information was ‘provided’ to a ‘provider or user of an interactive computer service’ for publication. Otherwise, posting of information on the Internet and other interactive computer services would be chilled, as the service provider or user could not tell whether posting was contemplated. To preclude this possibility, the focus should be not on the information provider’s intentions or knowledge when transmitting content but, instead, on the service provider’s or user’s reasonable perception of those intentions or knowledge. We therefore hold that a service provider or user is immune from liability under § 230(c)(1) when a third person or entity that created or developed the information in question furnished it to the provider or user under circumstances in which a reasonable person in the position of the service provider or user would conclude that the information was provided for publication on the Internet or other ‘interactive computer service.’ ”

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