SCOTUS to Hear Two Landmark Cases on Internet Speech
The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is slated to hear a pair of cases this week relating to the regulation of content posted online. Specifically, the cases focus on Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act which protects online platforms from being sued over content posted by their users....
- The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is slated to hear a pair of cases this week relating to the regulation of content posted online. Specifically, the cases focus on Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act which protects online platforms from being sued over content posted by their users.1
- On Tuesday the high court will hear Gonzalez v. Google, brought by the family of 23-year-old American college student Nohemi Gonzalez who was killed in the 2015 ISIS terror attack in Paris. Gonzalez’ parents allege that YouTube — which is owned by Google — is liable for damages because it did not remove ISIS content from its platform.2
- The Gonzalez v. Google case also takes aim at the algorithms used by social media companies to recommend content to users. As automated advertising represents a large segment of revenues for the companies facing the suit, the result may make a significant dent into their earnings. In 2022, Google's ad revenue totaled $168B.3
- Online platforms have so far successfully avoided lawsuits with the use of Section 230, including in 2016 when Google had Gonzalez’s parents' civil lawsuit dismissed by a federal district court. The US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit later affirmed the decision before the family asked SCOTUS to weigh in, which it agreed to do last October.4
- Section 230 has come under attack from diverse political angles, with Republicans claiming that online companies disproportionately censor conservatives, while Democrats argue that companies operating platforms online should be more active in censoring misinformation and hate speech. However, congressional efforts to reform Section 230 have stalled, leaving the courts to step in.1
- SCOTUS is also set to hear Twitter v. Taamneh, which focuses on whether social media companies can be sued for aiding and abetting terrorism by allowing users to post support for terrorist groups. The case was brought by the family of a victim killed in a 2017 ISIS attack in Istanbul.5
Sources: 1New York Times, 2New York Post, 3The times of india, 4CBS and 5CNN.
- Narrative A, as provided by Meta. Section 230 offers a vital protection that has facilitated the tremendous innovation we’ve seen in online platforms over the past two decades. Without it, companies would be unable to provide the user experience, recommendations, and economic opportunities currently afforded to people around the world. The loss of such legislation would cause irreparable damage to the sector and come at a huge cost to internet users globally.
- Narrative B, as provided by Newsweek. When Section 230 was first created in 1996, its creators could have never envisioned the behemoth social media would become in the lives of millions around the world. Big Social Media companies represent some of the largest and most influential corporate entities in the world and, with that much power, comes proportionate responsibility. Companies like Google can shape the psyche and actions of the population — there must be greater accountability and regulation in the online world.