Characterizing Professor’s Tweets as Anti-Semitic Isn’t Actionable Libel or Invasion of Privacy
From Judge Gerald McHugh’s decision yesterday in Tannous v. Cabrini Univ. (E.D. Pa.):
This is an action brought by Kareem Tannous, a former university professor, against StopAntisemitism.org, a non-profit watchdog organization that reshared Plaintiff’s social media posts with additional commentary…. [B]ecause I agree that Defendant’s online blog constituted protected opinion under the First Amendment, even if it “cherry-picked” Plaintiff’s tweets as alleged, I will dismiss Plaintiff’s false light claim….
In July 2022, Defendant StopAntisemitism.org published an article titled, “Kareem Tannous—Professor of Hate,” labeling Plaintiff as “Antisemite of the Week.” The article referenced or reposted five tweets from Tannous’ personal Twitter account with interspersed commentary, such as: “Tannous spreads conspiracy theories of Jewish control, refers to the Jewish people and nation as Nazis, incites violence, and calls [for] the eradication of Israel.” Additionally, the article (1) requested that readers submit an ethnic discrimination complaint against Tannous, (2) encouraged readers to email the President of Cabrini University to “express … concern about Professor Kareem Tannous’ ongoing antisemitism,” and (3) commented that “[s]omeone with such intrinsic hatred often manifests their racism into real world situations and neither Jewish students nor faculty should have to be subjected to Kareem Tannous’ bias.” …
Last month, Judge McHugh dismissed plaintiff’s defamation and tortious interference with business relations claim, but allowed the false light claim to go forward; but yesterday, the judge reconsidered that decision:
In Pennsylvania, false light invasion of privacy “imposes liability on a person who publishes material that ‘is not true, is highly offensive to a reasonable p
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