Responsibility for content: Google, Meta and Twitter are stepping up to the plate

In their legal opinions, IT giants including Microsoft, Meta and Twitter warned the Supreme Court against amending Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. This will allow legal action to be taken against content recommendation algorithms.

A week after Google filed a defense brief with the US Supreme Court warning that changing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) would “disrupt the web,” several companies including Twitter , Meta and Microsoft , filed their own legal opinions. They support Google’s argument that tightening the law could have disastrous consequences for publishers. Under the CDA Act of 1996, businesses are protected from liability for content posted by their users, including comments, reviews and advertisements.

However, the Supreme Court was asked to consider whether Section 230 was applicable and still applicable, as it was enacted before the Internet became a part of everyday life. The law is being investigated following a lawsuit filed by the family of Nohemi Gonzalez, a 23-year-old US citizen who was killed in Paris in a November 13, 2015 attack claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The Gonzalez family argues that the algorithms should be considered editorial content not covered by Section 230 liability immunity, and therefore YouTube, which is owned by Google, has violated the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). ) when its algorithms recommended ISIS-related content to users. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case on February 21.

Reviews of Section 230 protections for websites

Republican and Democratic lawmakers have criticized the protections the law provides. Republicans say the accountability rules give websites the ability to make biased decisions about removing content, while Democrats want those same sites to take more responsibility for moderation. In a statement, US President Joe Biden said his administration would support the position that Section 230 protections should not extend to recommendation algorithms. In its Jan. 19 motion, Microsoft argued that if the Supreme Court were to make changes to Section 230, “it would strip digital publishing decisions of important and long-standing protections from lawsuits, in an unreasonable manner, in contradiction in real work. of algorithms.”

The firm added that any move to narrow the law “would thereby expose interactive computing services to liability for posting content to users whenever a plaintiff can develop a theory that the sharing of content is somehow harmful”. In its own brief, Meta said the plaintiffs’ argument is “deeply flawed from a legal perspective” because by interpreting Section 230 as a way to shield sites from liability for content posted by users , while removing protection for content recommendation, “it ignores how the internet actually works.” The company called the plaintiffs’ position “practically unfortunate” and said a decision in their favor would prompt “online services to remove important, provocative and controversial content on questions of general interest”.

Liability protection, required for operating websites, according to Twitter

Twitter said the current interpretation of Section 230 “ensures that websites like Twitter and YouTube can operate despite the unfathomable amount of information they have access to and the potential liability that can result.” Since Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, the site has faced criticism for allowing previously banned users to return to the platform, including former President Donald Trump or Andrew Tate, who is currently under attack. an investigation in Romania for allegations of rape and human trafficking.

However, several other high-profile cases need to be considered before changing the law. Last week, the Supreme Court was set to discuss its jurisdiction over two cases challenging Texas and Florida laws that prohibit online platforms from removing certain political content. In addition, a Twitter vs. Taamneh, who has a lot in common with Gonzalez vs. Google, is due for oral argument on February 2. In this case, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are accused of aiding and abetting another attack claimed by Daesh.

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