The U.S. Supreme Court will address the responsibility of social media for content

The U.S. Supreme Court will address the responsibility of social media for content

The U.S. Supreme Court will consider two cases that call into question the federal protection of Internet companies and social media, exonerating them from responsibility for content posted by users.

According to Bloomberg, this is the first court review of the legislative immunity enjoyed by social media companies under section 230 of the Communicate Act of 1996, which gives the Internet platforms broad powers to manage their websites, and protects them from legal liability for the actions of users, with the exception of a relatively small list of cases.

The first case concerns a case against Google belonging to the Alphabet Inc., filed by relatives of a 23-year-old United States citizen, Noemi González, who died in a riot in Paris in November 2015 and accused the company of violating the Anti-Terrorism Act because its YouTube service recommended a video of a terrorist group to other users. Two lower courts, including the 9th U.S. District Court of Appeal in San Francisco, sided with Google, claiming that the claim should be dismissed.

The Supreme Court also agreed to consider a Twitter appeal in the case of the armed terrorist attack on the Reina nightclub in Istanbul in 2017. In the same ruling, which acquitted Google of publishing a video of events in Paris, the Court of Appeal stated that Twitter, Google and Facebook* Meta Platforms should be charged with playing a role in the terrorist attack in Istanbul without identifying or removing the material.

In its appeal, Twitter claims that the Court of Appeal has unduly extended the scope of the Anti-Terrorism Act by advancing the suit.

In May 2020, the Supreme Court refused to hear a similar case, dismissing an appeal as to whether section 230 of Facebook* protects U.S. citizens who were victims of terrorist attacks in Israel.

Previously, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that section 230 prohibited the hearing of an action, but the President did not agree by criticizing the broad immunity that the courts granted to Internet companies and calling on the U.S. Congress to amend the law.

The Supreme Court of Justice will hear the above cases early next year, and judgement is expected at the end of June.

* Listed on the list of voluntary associations and religious organizations in respect of which the court has taken a legally enforceable decision to abolish or prohibit activities on the grounds provided for in Federal Act No. 114-FZ of 25 July 2002 on countering extremist activities.