Twitter, Google Win Big At US Supreme Court In Internet Liability Cases

Social media platforms Twitter and Google registered a big win in US Supreme Court on Thursday as the court sidestepped claims that internet companies can be held accountable for the content posted on their sites, The Hill reported.

The judges debated two cases in which the families of terrorist attack victims claimed that Google and Twitter should be held accountable for aiding and abetting ISIS, which resulted in the death of their loved ones.

After the legal accusations, Google claimed that it was shielded from all of it by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, passed in 1996 to stop internet service providers from being held accountable for third-party information uploaded on their websites.

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However, the court decided on Thursday that neither company had any underlying obligation to require the protections, avoiding becoming involved in the contentious Section 230 argument, according to The Hill.

In the Twitter case, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for a unanimous jury that the plaintiffs’ claims came “far short of plausibly alleging that defendants aided and abetted the Reina attack.”

The incident dates back to the time when an ISIS-linked attacker opened fire at the Reina nightclub in the Ortakoy neighbourhood of Istanbul, Turkey, on January 1, 2017, killing at least 38 people, along with Nawras Alassaf. Hundreds of people had been enjoying New Year’s Day there when the incident took place.

The family of Alassaf filed a lawsuit against Twitter and other tech companies, claiming they did not do enough to combat the terrorist organisation.

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According to The Hill, similar facts were given in the Google case. The family of US citizen Nohemi Gonzalez, who perished in an ISIS attack in 2015 in Paris, filed a lawsuit against Google over its alleged YouTube recommendations of pro-ISIS films.

Halimah DeLaine Prado, general counsel of Google, stated that the decision “will reassure the countless companies, scholars, content creators, and civil society organisations who joined us in this case.’

“We’ll continue our work to safeguard free expression online, combat harmful content, and support businesses and creators who benefit from the internet,” Prado said, according to The Hill.

Evidently, the two rulings do not settle the legal dispute over Section 230’s application. Internet businesses of all sizes are shielded from liability under Section 230 for third-party content uploaded on their platforms.

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