The U.S. Supreme Court left in place a broad liability shield for social media companies for content posted by users, insulating Twitter Inc., Facebook Inc. and Google LLC from claims that they provided aid to Islamic State terrorists.
Acting in a case involving Google, the court said it would not rule out efforts to limit the immunity internet companies enjoy under the decades-old law known as Section 230. media has responsibility under an anti-terrorism law for a shooting in 2017 in a nightclub in Istanbul.
The unanimous decisions together amount to a victory for social media platforms, allaying fears that the tech industry could face a new flood of lawsuits and remove speech from their platforms. . At least for now, the outcome means that an act of Congress is needed to open up social media companies to third-party content lawsuits.
The decision in the Istanbul case sets new limits on charges under the US Anti-Terrorism Act. The court rejected allegations by the family of victim Nawras Alassaf that the three social media companies did not do enough to remove the Islamic State videos.
Writing for the court, Justice Clarence Thomas said any connection between the companies and the nightclub attack was “too remote.”
“The allegations made by the plaintiffs here are not the type of widespread, systematic, and culpable aiding and abetting of a series of terrorist activities that could be characterized as aiding and abetting every terrorist act of ISIS, ” wrote Thomas.
The high court’s Section 230 case involves Nohemi Gonzalez, a 23-year-old US citizen who was among 130 people killed in the Islamic State group’s attacks in Paris in November 2015. His family said that Alphabet Inc.’s Google algorithm-driven YouTube recommendations, helped the Islamic State to violate the Antiterrorism Act.
In an unsigned opinion, the court said the lawsuit “seems to say little, if any plausible claim for relief.” The justices overturned a federal appeals court decision that allowed the case to proceed.
Tech companies and their allies say that weakening Section 230 would have devastating effects, forcing social media platforms, search engines and online marketplaces to radically reconfigure their businesses. to protect themselves. Industry critics have called the concerns overblown, saying internet companies should take more responsibility for the proliferation of dangerous hate speech and disinformation.
Enacted as part of a broader law in 1996, Section 230 is widely credited with helping the internet thrive, giving platforms assurance that they won’t be at risk of lawsuits over things posted on their sites. user.
But the provision drew criticism from both sides of the political aisle. Conservatives including former President Donald Trump have complained Section 230 protects tech companies from censoring right-wing voices, while many liberals say it allows platforms to ignore hate speech. speech and extremism.
The cases are Gonzalez vs. Google, 21-1333, and Twitter vs. Taamneh, 21-1496.
Photo: Photographer: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg
Copyright 2023 Bloomberg.
Interested in Digital Marketing?
Get automatic alerts for this topic.