Supreme Court Swats Down Attempts To Hold Twitter, Google Financially Liable for Terrorism
Today, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Twitter and Google in two separate cases that attempted to hold the sites financially liable under federal law for terrorists who used their platforms (and algorithms) to recruit members and then launch deadly attacks.
At the heart of the two cases, Twitter v. Taamneh and Gonzalez v. Google, was a question of whether the two websites had essentially “aided and abetted” Islamic State group terrorists by failing to adequately moderate the content on their platforms. Each case involved Islamic State group terrorists launching deadly attacks (one in France and one in Turkey) and relatives attempting to lay part of the financial responsibility on social media platforms for their use as recruiting tools. (Full disclosure: Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes Reason, submitted an amicus brief in support of Google in Gonzalez v. Google.)
While these cases may have led to debate about the limits of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the federal law that generally gives online platforms immunity against liability for content posted by third parties, that’s not how they shook out. Instead, the justices more narrowly ruled that the plaintiffs had failed to state a claim in which the courts could provide relief under the relevant law here, Section 2333 of the federal Anti-Terrorism Act. The unanimous ruling in Twitter v. Taamneh, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, determined that Twitter did not purposefully associate itself with the Islamic State group and that the plaint
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