Social Media Company Liability Draws Supreme Court Scrutiny

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The US Supreme Court will decide whether social media companies can be sued for hosting and recommending terrorist content, taking up two cases that challenge their liability protections. The cases mark the court’s first test of the broad immunity social media companies have enjoyed under a provision known as Section 230, part of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. But the law has drawn criticism from both Democrats and Republicans amid questions about whether social media companies have become too powerful. In one case, Alphabet Inc.’s Google is trying to defeat a suit involving Nohemi Gonzalez, a 23-year-old US citizen who was among 129 people killed in coordinated ISIS attacks in Paris in November 2015. Through its algorithms, Gonzalez’s family says Google’s YouTube service violated the Anti-Terrorism Act by recommending the terrorist group’s videos to other users. Courts have interpreted Section 230 as immunizing computer services when they are engaged in activities traditionally performed by publishers, such as deciding whether to display or edit third-party content. But Gonzalez’s family says recommendations are a different matter. The Supreme Court also agreed to hear a related appeal by Twitter Inc. in a case stemming from a 2017 terrorist shooting in an Istanbul nightclub. The court will hear arguments and rule by July. The cases are Gonzalez v. Google, 21-1333 and Twitter v. Taamneh, 21-1496. 

Social Media Company Liability Draws Supreme Court Scrutiny Supreme Court to hear challenge to law that shields internet companies from lawsuits (USA Today)