The US Supreme Court appears reluctant to overturn Section 230, setting up a major win for tech firms and online platforms.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects online companies from legal fallout for content posted by users on their platforms. The law is what shields Twitter, Facebook, and other from being legally liable, regardless of the kind of content their users post.
In recent years, Section 230 has come under attack, with lawmakers and regulators on both sides of the aisle looking to see its protections repealed, or at least scaled back.
SCOTUS is considering the first significant challenge to the law, a case brought by the family of Nohemi Gonzalez, one of the victims of the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris. The case alleges that Google was partially responsible for the radicalization of the perpetrators by algorithmically pushing Islamic State videos to interested parties.
According to The New York Times, the justices appeared unconvinced that fundamentally crippling how internet platforms recommend information will solve anything.
“If you’re interested in cooking,” Justice Clarence Thomas said, “you don’t want thumbnails on light jazz.” He later added, “I see these as suggestions and not really recommendations because they don’t really comment on them.”
Meanwhile, Google’s lawyer argued that repealing Section 230 would basically break the internet, causing it devolve into super-moderated zones that border on censorship, or lawless zones that are “a horror show.”
Given how important Section 230 is, there’s sure to be people upset on both sides, regardless of how the court rules.