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Authorities Consider Taking Legal Action Against Facebook Over Storm Area 51 Event

Local authorities in Rachel, Nevada — the location of a planned Aliengate festival that evolved out of a viral Facebook event — are considering taking legal action to cover $250,000 the county plans to spend to prepare for the potential onslaught of visitors. Gizmodo reports: Matty Roberts created the “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us” Facebook event on June 27 as a joke, but the event went viral and evolved into an actual festival — Alienstock — which was planned for September 19-22 at the Little A’Le’Inn in Rachel, Nevada, near the US Air Force base known as Area 51. But just a few days before the event was supposed to begin, Roberts and his partners backed out, posting on their website that they “foresee a possible humanitarian disaster in the works” and after considering “the lack of infrastructure, planning, and risk management, along with concerns raised for the safety of the expected 10,000+ attendees, we decided to transition Alienstock away from the Rachel festival towards a safer alternative.” That safer alternative is an “Area 51 Celebration” happening on Thursday night at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center.

However, Little A’Le’Inn owner Connie West has made it very clear that she still plans to host her own Alienstock, despite Roberts’ attorney sending her a cease-and-desist letter ordering her to stop using the name “Alienstock” since the event at that location was canceled. Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee told Gizmodo that as of Wednesday morning, people had already started arriving at A’Le’Inn. “Matty Roberts is the one that started this on Facebook. So our district attorney, his opinion is that Matty Roberts and Facebook stand to be partially to blame for this” Lee told Gizmodo. “He’s already told people that this is quote-unquote ‘His event.’ He told some of the other event promoters that this was his event. And so I guess if it’s his event and he’s taken ownership of it then we know where legal action should go toward. I’m not an attorney but that is what Lincoln County district attorney is saying.” Facebook is protected from legal action regarding content created by one of its users under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, but it’s possible that the district attorney may argue that this particular circumstance wouldn’t be covered by those protections.

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