Commentary

New Lawsuit Claims Fyre Organizers Tried To Quash Social Media Critics

The legal woes of the Fyre Festival organizers, who helped hundreds of attendees feel like they were part of a real natural disaster for just a few thousand dollars per head, seem to keep multiplying.

In addition to facing multiple lawsuits alleging fraud, negligence, misrepresentation and general skeeziness, impresarios Ja Rule and Billy McFarland are also being sued for trying to suppress unfavorable comments on the event.

The plaintiffs, Kenneth and Emily Reel, have filed a class action lawsuit in Florida seeking $5 million from the organizers and various marketing firms who helped promote the festival, accusing the defendants of issuing a flurry of cease-and-desist letters in an attempt to silence critics of the debacle on social media.

The letters accused critics of potentially stirring up “violence, rioting, or civil unrest” as the event came apart at the seams, adding that if “someone innocent does get hurt as a result … Fyre Festival will hold you accountable and responsible.”

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The cease-and-desist letters are a bold legal gambit, considering the organizers would probably bear primary responsibility for any disorder resulting from their failure to provide contractually agreed services at the site of the festival, on the Bahaman island of Exuma.

There’s also the issue of First Amendment rights.

Although the threat of rioting has passed, according to the lawsuit these legal motions to gag social media users are still active, as the organizers desperately try to limit potential legal damage from the upcoming court cases: “Those individuals who elected to speak negatively about the Defendants on social media… are now being threatened with legal action via cease-and-desist letters.”

The Reels paid $4,600 for premium tickets to the Fyre Festival, including a luxury villa, but the festival imploded before they could board a plane for the Bahamas.

This is the sixth lawsuit brought against Fyre Festival’s organizers since the high-profile failure to launch in late April.

Last week three anonymous attendees filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles against the organizers and 100 prominent “Fyre starters,” referring to the team of social media influencers hired to build buzz around the event, alleging an array of transgressions including breach of contract, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and unfair trade practices among other offenses.

The plaintiffs, who intend to expand the case into a class action lawsuit on behalf of all ticket holders, specifically noted that the social media influencers failed to disclose that they were being compensated by the festival’s organizers in return for promoting the event in their social profiles.

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