The court overseeing the anticompetitive and conspiratorial conduct case against Meta Platforms and adult-oriented content platform OnlyFans and its operators, denied the adult entertainer plaintiffs’ request to file another brief concerning arguments made in the defendants’ motions to dismiss.
Last week, Judge William Alsup ruled that the plaintiffs, who pointed to their motion filed in a parallel state court proceeding, neither showed they were eligible under a local rule exception nor that they had good cause for specific discovery concerning the defendants’ California anti-SLAPP motions to strike.
The suit accused Meta, in collaboration with OnlyFans, of an alleged conspiracy to derail the plaintiffs’ livelihood as adult entertainers while boosting OnlyFans profits. According to the class action complaint, the plaintiffs used Facebook and Instagram to promote their content, yet traffic to their profiles began to tank while OnlyFans’ popularity skyrocketed.
They explained that, among other things, Meta unfairly flagged and disabled their accounts as belonging to terrorist organizations under suspicious circumstances and OnlyFans’ influence. The suit stated claims for tortious interference with contract, intentional interference with business relations, and violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law.
Meta moved to dismiss, disclaiming responsibility for the plaintiffs’ purported downfall. Instead, it said that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act shields it from liability, in addition to California’s anti-SLAPP statute, a law that similarly protects publishers from censorship-related lawsuits based on First Amendment rights.
According to the plaintiffs’ proposed brief, they have “no means to oppose some of the assertions Defendants make in their anti-SLAPP motions absent discovery,” specifically concerning whether either Meta or the OnlyFans co-defendants qualify as “publishers” under those laws.
Moreover, the filing argued that Meta did not raise “purely legal defenses” and instead, sought to undermine the plaintiffs’ assertions as “factually unsubstantiated,” while repeatedly referencing materials outside of the complaint.
But in a short order, Judge Alsup ruled that the plaintiffs failed to show their entitlement to additional briefing. The motion to dismiss hearing is scheduled for September 8.
The plaintiffs are represented by Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman PLLC and Meta by Kirkland & Ellis LLP.