Thursday, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case that many believe could have fundamentally altered social media and the Internet.
The nation’s highest court declined to hear a case that could have clarified the scope of the federal liability shield known as Section 230, which protects internet companies from numerous legal claims involving user-posted content.
“In a pair of rulings Thursday morning, the justices shut down lawsuits seeking to hold giants like Google and Twitter liable for terrorism-promoting content on their platforms, but the court nixed the suits without issuing any sweeping pronouncements on the immunity provision that has come under increasing fire from both Republicans and Democrats,” Politico reported.
“The cases mark the first time the high court dealt with Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the 1996 law that gives internet websites broad liability protections for most third-party content posted on their sites. It marks a major win for tech companies that have argued narrowing their decades-old liability shield could be disastrous for the internet, leading to a greater influx of hate speech and extremist content online,” the outlet added.
In a dissenting opinion issued in October 2020, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas criticized Section 230 in the Malwarebytes Inc. v. Enigma Software Group USA case.
“Courts have long emphasized nontextual arguments when interpreting 230, leaving questionable precedent in their wake,” the justice said. “Extending 230 immunity beyond the natural reading of the text can have serious consequences,” he added, and specified his concern about giving companies immunity from civil claims for “knowingly host[ing] illegal child pornography” and “for race discrimination.”
“We should be certain that is what the law demands,” he said.
The US Supreme Court left in place a broad liability shield for social media companies, known as Section 230, a triumph for Twitter, Facebook and Google https://t.co/8EFfFAF3YE
— Bloomberg (@business) May 18, 2023
In March, Professor Adam Candeub, who led President Trump’s efforts to reinterpret Section 230, argued that the protections provide Big Tech with a “get out of jail free” card in censorship lawsuits.
In an article for the Federalist Society, Candeub warned that the Supreme Court’s rejection of a case this week could unintentionally permit censorship, as more platforms would be liable for content they decline to remove or fail to remove promptly.
More on this story via Conservative Brief:
“The Gonzalez lawyers are concerned about insufficient content moderation, not just of terrorist activity, but also of constitutionally protected hate speech. This leads them to advance inconsistent positions. In their cert petition and merits brief, they argue for limiting Section 230(c)(1) with respect to targeted recommendations. But in an amicus brief submitted in the constitutional challenge to Florida’s social media law, which limits platforms’ ability to censor content in a viewpoint-discriminatory manner, the same legal team argues for expanding Section 230(c)(1) to protect platform censorship. The parties in Gonzalez v. Google may not give the Court the opportunity to fully consider Section 230, as both petitioners and respondent seem, in certain respects, to be on Big Tech’s side,” Candeub wrote. CONTINUE READING…