Zeran v. America
The 1997 case, Zeran
v. America Online, concerned an anonymous posting on an America Online
bulletin board. The posting appeared
after the 1995 bombing of the Federal
Building in Oklahoma
City; it offered to sell “Oklahoma T-Shirts” bearing
offensive slogans (two of the least
offensive being, “Rack’em, Stack’em, Pack’em” and “Visit Oklahoma—It’s A Blast”). Zeran’s home phone given as the contact. Zeran had no connection with the posting. As a result of the posting Zeran’s life
became a nightmare. His phone rang
constantly; callers expressed outrage, and some threatened to kill him. The constant calls prevented him from
conducting the business which he ran from his home.
Zeran sued AOL for defamation. To see the effect of CDA § 230, ask: Is AOL is the “provider . . . of an
interactive computer service”?