Supreme Court Sides With Google, Twitter in 2 Big Cases

Justices side with social media giants in closely watched liability challenges
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 18, 2023 12:16 PM CDT
Google, Twitter Have Good Days at Supreme Court
Beatriz Gonzalez, the mother of 23-year-old Nohemi Gonzalez, who was killed in the Paris terrorist attacks, with stepfather Jose Hernandez outside the Supreme Court on Feb. 21, 2023. The family wants to sue Google for YouTube videos they said helped attract IS recruits and radicalize them.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

The Supreme Court on Thursday delivered good news to Google, Twitter, and social media in general Thursday in a pair of cases regarding liability for what users post.

  • Google: In one, the court sidestepped a case against Google that might have allowed more lawsuits against social media companies, per the AP. The justices' decision returns to a lower court the case of a family of an American college student who was killed in an Islamic State terrorist attack in Paris. The family wants to sue Google for YouTube videos they said helped attract IS recruits and radicalize them. Google, which owns YouTube, claims immunity from the lawsuit under a 1996 law that generally shields social media company for content posted by others. Lower courts agreed with Google.

  • Section 230: The justices had agreed to consider whether the legal shield is too broad. (It's well known in the tech industry as Section 230, per the Washington Post.) In arguments in February, several sounded reluctant to weigh in now. In an unsigned opinion Thursday, the court wrote that it was declining to address the law at issue. The outcome is, at least for now, a victory for the tech industry, which predicted havoc on the internet if Google lost. But the high court remains free to take up the issue in a later case.

  • Second case: The court also ruled in a separate lawsuit involving Google, Twitter, and Facebook, heard on the same day in February, that seeks to hold them liable for a terrorist attack in a Turkish nightclub that killed 39 people. A lower court allowed the suit to proceed under a law against aiding and abetting terrorism. The justices' unanimously ruled that case could not go forward.
(More US Supreme Court stories.)

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