The Supreme Court made a decision in favor of tech companies on Thursday in two cases that accused them of “aiding and abetting” terrorism. In both Twitter v. Taamneh and Gonzalez v. Google, the family members of victims killed in ISIS-related attacks sued the tech giants over their alleged role in promoting extremist content on their platforms.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion in Twitter v. Taamneh. He stated the plaintiffs’ allegations were insufficient to prove that these defendants aided and abetted ISIS in carrying out the attack in question. Therefore, the plaintiffs’ lawsuit wouldn’t stand against the social media platform.
As Twitter was found innocent in this case, the court declined to address Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. The second lawsuit, Gonzalez v. Google, was more specific as it questioned the application of Section 230. However, the court passed the decision on to the Ninth Circuit, asking them to consider the plaintiffs’ complaint and keep their previous decision in mind.
The plaintiffs of Gonzalez v. Google argued that the platform aided and abetted the ISIS attack because its algorithm recommended ISIS-promoting videos that radicalized some viewers. The question arose whether Section 230, which shields online platforms from being held accountable as speakers of third-party content, would provide Google with immunity for the video recommendations made by the algorithm.
SCOTUS sided with tech companies in two cases that charged them with “aiding and abetting” terrorism, declining to address a heated question on the extent of immunity granted to social media platforms for content hosted on their website.@DailyCaller https://t.co/4e0gUzXyDH
— Katelynn Richardson (@katesrichardson) May 18, 2023
During oral arguments, the justices showed hesitancy in ruling over Section 230, saying that they weren’t experts in internet behavior. However, Justice Amy Coney Barrett had shown indications that if Twitter were cleared of all charges in the first lawsuit, the Court might not have to decide on Section 230.
Overall, it is a victory for tech companies who are often inaccurately blamed for terrorists’ actions committed through their platforms. Because of this decision, social media companies can continue to promote free speech while operating under the shield of Section 230’s safe harbor provisions.
Source: The Daily Caller