U.S. Supreme Court hears lawsuits alleging tech giants are aiding terrorist attacks
Google, Youtube, Twitter are being sued by American families of ISIS victims.
The Supreme Court spent two days debating whether Big Tech should be held liable for fueling the growth of terrorism online.
The broadness of the protections provided in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 has come into question. The law says sites like YouTube, Google, Facebook, and Twitter are immune to legal claims concerning content posted by their users.
In Tuesday’s case – Gonzalez v. Google – Google and its subsidiary, Youtube, were questioned in relation to the murder of Nohemi Gonzalez by Islamist militants.
Gonzalez’s family alleged that Youtube’s recommendation feature “assists ISIS in spreading its message and thus provides material support to ISIS.”
In the case on Wednesday, the American relatives of a man killed in the 2017 Reina attack in Istanbul sued Twitter under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
His family is seeking damages on the basis that the “defendants’ social media platforms allowed ISIS to post videos and other content to communicate the terrorist group’s message, to radicalize new recruits, and to generally further its mission.”
A key stipulation is whether the companies provided “substantial assistance” to an “act of international terrorism,” thus allowing the relatives to maintain their suit.
Justice Clarence Thomas remarked on the case: “If we’re not pinpointing cause and effect or proximate cause for specific things then it would seem that every terrorist act that uses this platform would also mean Twitter is an aider and abettor in those instances.”
- Gonzalez v Google
- Twitter v Mehier Taamneh
- Gonzalez case transcript
- Taamneh v. Twitter case transcript
- Overview of Section 230: What It Is, Why It Was Created, and What It Has Achieved | ITIF
Media Coverage (7)
- Al Jazeera
- US Supreme Court weighs Twitter’s role in sharing ISIL content
- Associated Press
- Supreme Court weighs tech giants’ liability in terror case
- Supreme Court to hear oral arguments in Twitter case with broad impact on internet
- Christian Science Monitor
- Internet speech: Supreme Court to weigh who is protected online
- U.S. Supreme Court weighs suit against Twitter over Istanbul massacre
- Wall Street Journal
- Supreme Court to Hear Arguments on Whether Twitter Is Liable in Terror Case
- Washington Post
- Supreme Court questions Twitter’s liability for terrorist attack