A short opinion issued this week by Judge William Alsup said that the adult entertainer plaintiffs who claim that Meta Platforms conspired with adult entertainment platform OnlyFans to throttle traffic to their Instagram profiles fell short of meeting the federal pleading requirements.
As previously reported, several adult entertainers took aim at Meta for unwarrantedly restricting or disbanding their accounts, which allegedly had the intended effect of buoying traffic to OnlyFans. The February-filed class action stated claims for business torts and unfair competition.
The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint. For its part, Meta raised a multitude of defenses, including Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and constitutional corollaries. The plaintiffs sought leave to file an additional brief to address these defenses, but last week, the court denied that request.
In this week’s opinion, Judge Alsup said there were three main issues with the plaintiffs’ complaint. As revealed at the dismissal hearing, the plaintiffs had more information to support their claims but did not include it in the complaint, meaning they “could have pled more, but they chose not to,” the court pointed out.
Second, the opinion said that many allegations were made “on information and belief” when it was not necessarily the case that information was “peculiarly within defendants’ possession.” For example, Judge Alsup noted that the plaintiffs could have gathered more data points to support their claim that OnlyFans-affiliated performer profiles were not subject to Meta’s automated takedowns.
Lastly, Judge Alsup said the complaint suffered from vagueness. “Rather than slug through all of plaintiffs’ claims and defendants’ myriad defenses, the better course is for plaintiffs to file an amended pleading, with as much cure as possible,” the opinion concluded.
The plaintiffs have two weeks to file an amended complaint.
The plaintiffs are represented by Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman PLLC and Meta by Kirkland & Ellis LLP.