ARLINGTON, VA. — The American Consumer Institute (ACI) issued the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s rulings on Twitter, Inc. v. Taamneh and Gonzalez v. Google LLC.
On May 18, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court issued decisions on Twitter, Inc. v. Taamneh and Gonzalez v. Google LLC. Both cases addressed platform liability, terrorist groups and the role that content recommendations play in encouraging or aiding nefarious activities. While not addressing Section 230 application directly, the court avoided unduly shifting the responsibility of nefarious actors onto platforms, which could result in the elimination or heavy filtering of content that billions of consumers enjoy.
InTwitter, Inc. v. Taamneh, the question posed was whether the failure to block ISIS – an international terrorist organization – and its content amounted to “aiding and abetting” or providing “substantial assistance” to the organization. In the decision, the court determined that, “The mere creation of those platforms, however, is not culpable,” and that, “The fact that some bad actors took advantage of these platforms is insufficient to state a claim that defendants knowingly gave substantial assistance and thereby aided and abetted those wrongdoers’ acts.”
Since Twitter, Inc. v. Taamneh was determined on merits and the two cases were materially similar, the Court declined to comment on whether Section 230 – often referred to as the twenty-six words that created the internet – protects algorithmic recommendations in Gonzalez v. Google LLC. In the decision, the Court stated that, “We therefore decline to address the application of §230 to a complaint that appears to state little, if any, plausible claim for relief.”
While not addressing Section 230, the decisions did maintain liability protection that is vital for promoting the online exchange of ideas, while circumventing legal situations that would incentivize a heavy-handed approach to content moderation by companies.
To learn more about Section 230, please see ACI’s recent article on how Section 230 protects individual rights while not shielding bad actors from legal consequences.
Email [email protected] to set up a conversation with Tirzah Duren, Director of Tech Policy at ACI. Read more about tech policy issues by visiting www.TheAmericanConsumer.org or following us on Twitter at @ConsumerPal.