From The Wall Street Journal:
The Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether social-media platforms can be held liable for terrorist propaganda uploaded by users, opening a new challenge to the broad legal immunity provided to internet companies by the law known as Section 230.
The court on Monday took up a set of cases in which families of terrorism victims allege Twitter, Facebook and YouTube bear some responsibility for attacks by Islamic State, based on content posted on those sites.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act has come under intense scrutiny from lawmakers in recent years, but this is the first time the Supreme Court has moved to weigh in on the foundational internet law.
The eventual ruling could have repercussions for businesses and internet users worldwide, said Anupam Chander, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center.
At issue are the “algorithmic processes for information dissemination that all internet platforms use,” Mr. Chander said.
The court agreed to take up Gonzalez v. Google, an appeal by the family of Nohemi Gonzalez, a young woman killed in an ISIS attack in Paris in 2015. Ms. Gonzalez’s family alleges YouTube, a subsidiary of Google owner Alphabet Inc., aided ISIS by recommending the terrorist group’s videos to users.
The court also agreed to hear a similar appeal, Twitter Inc. v. Taamneh, brought by family members of Nawras Alassaf, who was killed in an ISIS attack at an Istanbul nightclub in 2017. Mr. Alassaf’s relatives allege Twitter, Google and Facebook parent company Meta Platforms Inc. all provided material support to ISIS and are “the vehicle of choice in spreading propaganda.”
Lawyers for Google, Twitter and Facebook have said in court filings that they have made extensive efforts to remove ISIS content and that there is no direct causal link between the websites and the Paris and Istanbul attacks.
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Section 230 helped build the modern-day internet. The statute acts as a shield, saying that internet companies generally aren’t liable for harmful content user posts on their sites. Section 230 also allows companies to remove content they deem objectionable without liability, as long as they act in good faith.
In the Gonzalez case, the plaintiffs alleged Google knowingly allowed its algorithms to recommend and target ISIS recruitment videos to users, allowing the group to spread its message.
The case raises the question of whether Section 230 grants immunity for recommendations made by algorithms or if it only applies to editorial decisions—like removing content—made by representatives of internet companies.
“[W]hether Section 230 applies to these algorithm-generated recommendations is of enormous practical importance,” the family argued in their petition to the high court. “Interactive computer services constantly direct such recommendations, in one form or another, at virtually every adult and child in the United States who uses social media.”
Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal