SCOTUS decides: Should tech companies be held accountable for what others put on their platforms?

Published: Feb. 20, 2023 at 4:20 PM EST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Eight years ago, 23-year old Nohemi Gonzalez was one of 130 people killed during the Paris attacks.

Nohemi’s family believe the gunman were recruited to ISIS and radicalized by videos promoted on YouTube.

They’ve decided to sue the tech giant, and the case hits the Supreme Court this week.

It asks the fundamental question: should tech companies be held liable for what others put on their platforms?

“How much smarts we should demand of a piece of software is, I think, a good question,” said cybersecurity expert Matthew Curtin.

Since 1996, there has been a protection called Section 230.

The rule shields tech companies from being sued for what’s on their platform.

For example, if someone tweets something libelous about you, you can sue the user - but you can’t sue twitter.

Gonzalez Vs. Google could remove that protection.

“If we have the ability to go after a piece of software or somebody running a piece of software or what somebody else has injected into the system, the idea is basically going to be, how do we automate anything?” asks Curtin.

Gonzalez family lawyers argue the protections allow rampant harmful content – But Curtin says the case has the potential to clamp down on what anyone is able to post.

“anything that is going to reduce information availability is going to be a tool that somebody is using to suppress a viewpoint that they don’t like. And that has never worked out well for us in the history of our species.”

Oral arguments for the case will be held Tuesday, but we won’t know a verdict until the justices come out with their opinions in June.