On Monday, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear a case this term on social media company liability over user posts. Gonzales v. Google will determine whether social media companies can be held liable for content published on their platforms. Section 230 of 1996’s Communications Decency Act gives the companies immunity from posts made by others. What’s at issue, in this case, is when the companies use algorithms to promote posts generated by others. Are they still immune from liability for the post?
The case was brought by relatives of a murder victim, US citizen Nohemi Gonzalez, who was gunned down by Isis terrorists while studying abroad in Paris. Their theory is that Google should pay up for the attack because its algorithm fed users who liked Isis-type material more of it:
“[B]y recommend[ing] ISIS videos to users, Google assists ISIS in spreading its message and thus provides material support to ISIS … ”
The implications of this case are far-reaching, to say the least, implicating both what and how users might post to social media and how the hosts can monetize those posts. No date has been set yet for oral arguments on the case.