The arguments that will be presented this week before the United States Supreme Court in the cases Gonzalez v. Google and Twitter v. Taamneh are expected to have a substantial impact on the direction that free expression will go in the future.
Both of these lawsuits have to do with information that was housed on internet platforms, and the plaintiffs in each case believe that this content helped fuel terrorist acts. The parents of Nohemi Gonzalez, a student who was killed in an attack carried out by ISIS, have filed a lawsuit against Google under federal anti-terrorism laws. The lawsuit alleges that Google’s YouTube is liable for damages because it failed to remove videos of ISIS terrorist attacks from its platform. Nohemi Gonzalez was a student who was killed in an attack carried out by ISIS.
The case of Twitter v. Taamneh, on the other hand, involves the death of Nawras Alassaf as a result of a terrorist attack. His family has filed a lawsuit against Twitter, Facebook, and Google, alleging that these companies contributed to the expansion of ISIS and could have taken more aggressive enforcement action to combat pro-ISIS content. The lawsuit was brought by the family of Nawras Alassaf.
Although it does not explicitly center on the liability protections afforded by Section 230, this case is connected to information that was published on an internet platform. Internet service providers are afforded legal protections under Section 230 in order to enable them to host, moderate, and delete the vast majority of user content.
The decisions that the Supreme Court makes in these cases could have an impact on the discussions that are taking place in Congress. There, Democrats contend that tech firms have used Section 230 to allow the spread of disinformation, while conservatives claim that internet companies have abused the law to stifle speech that leans to the right. The decisions that the Supreme Court makes in these cases will be announced on June 25.
“Platforms say if the liability shield doesn’t protect their use of targeted algorithms to recommend and promote content, some companies would more aggressively remove users’ speech or bar the discussion of more controversial topics for fear of being sued.”
“There is bipartisan support in Congress for rewriting Section 230, which prohibits ‘interactive computer services from being treated as the ‘publisher or speaker of ‘information provided by outside users.’”
Nonetheless, the arguments that each side presents are distinct from one another, According to the New York Post, Democrats believe that “tech businesses have utilized the laws to facilitate the free dissemination of disinformation,” whereas conservatives believe that internet companies have misused the law in order to stifle speech that leans to the right.