Section 230: “Supreme Court Shields Twitter From Liability For Terror-Related Content” & “Supreme Court Sidesteps Challenge to Internet Companies’ Broad Protections From Lawsuits”
The decision is a victory for Twitter and other tech platforms that have faced a barrage of lawsuits from critics who allege they should be held legally responsible for societal harms, including terrorist attacks.
The decision was unanimous and written by Justice Clarence Thomas.
The court held that Twitter’s hosting of general terrorist speech does not create indirect legal responsibility for specific terrorist attacks, effectively raising the bar for future such claims. The Twitter ruling a major defeat for tech critics who have said that social media platforms must be held accountable with the threat of more lawsuits.
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The justices’ decision returns to a lower court the case of a family of an American college student who was killed in an Islamic State terrorist attack in Paris. The family wants to sue Google for YouTube videos they said helped attract IS recruits and radicalize them. Google owns YouTube.
Google claims immunity from the lawsuit under a 1996 law that generally shields social media company for content posted by others. Lower courts agreed with Google.
The justices had agreed to consider whether the legal shield is too broad. But in arguments in February, several sounded reluctant to weigh in now.
In an unsigned opinion Thursday, the court wrote that it was declining to address the law at issue.
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About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.