Satanic Temple Loses Cyber-squatting Lawsuit

Security

A federal judge in Washington state has dismissed a cyber-squatting claim brought by the Washington Chapter of The Satanic Temple.

The United Federation of Churches LLC, doing business as The Satanic Temple, filed a lawsuit against a group of former Temple members who it claimed erased the contents of the Temple’s social media accounts and replaced it with content that was critical of the organization.

In 2014, the Washington Chapter created a business page on Facebook to disseminate information about The Satanic Temple. The page currently has over 17,000 followers. Another Facebook page associated with the Temple and named TST WA allies, has about 500 followers. 

The Temple alleged that in March 2020, former church members David Johnson and Mickey Meeham hacked into the Facebook pages and exceeded their authorization by removing all Temple-approved administrators from the account except the other defendants named in the suit.

Meeham was accused of changing the name of the TST WA allies page to “Evergreen Memes for Queer Satanic Friends” and uploading a post stating that the page was “no longer affiliated with The Satanic Temple.” 

Suggestions that the Washington Chapter had supported “ableism, misogyny, and racism,” transphobia, and police brutality were allegedly added to the page by Meeham.

The Temple claimed that days after Meeham’s alleged actions, Johnson logged into the chapter’s primary Facebook page, modified the contents, removed Temple-approved administrators, and posted false claims about the church. 

Johnson allegedly accused the leadership of the Temple of being “cozy with the alt-right,” and “insufficiently leftist.” He was further accused of changing the Temple’s profile description in their Twitter account and “following a number of extremist groups to create a false impression of affiliation between The Satanic Temple and extremism.”

Defendant Leah Fishbaugh was accused of changing the password, recovery email, and phone number associated with the Temple’s Google accounts. 

The Temple has since recovered access to its Twitter and Google accounts but was unable to recover access to the Facebook pages. 

Judge Richard A. Jones dismissed the Temple’s lawsuit on February 26, after concluding that “post-domain paths” or “vanity URLs” aren’t considered “domain names” under the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.

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