The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to weigh in on whether tech companies should be allowed immunity over ‘problematic’ content posted by users.
The case at hand alleges that YouTube aided and abetted the killing of an American in coordinated 2015 terrorist attacks carried out by ISIS, which killed 130 people. The family of one of the victims, Nohemi Gonzalez, has argued that YouTube’s active role in recommending videos overcomes the liability shield for internet companies enacted by Congress in 1996 as part of the Communications Decency Act.
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Section 230 of that act absolves online platforms of liability from content posted by users – and has come under fire in recent years, with the right claiming that it allows companies to inappropriately censor conservative views, and the left saying it allows social media companies to spread dangerous right-wing wrongthink, CBS News reports.
Gonzalez was a 23-year-old college student studying in France when she was killed while dining at a restaurant during the wave of attacks, which also targeted the Bataclan concert hall.
Her family is seeking to sue Google-owned YouTube for allegedly allowing ISIS to spread its message. The lawsuit targets YouTube’s use of algorithms to suggest videos for users based on content they have previously viewed. YouTube’s active role goes beyond the kind of conduct that Congress intended to protect with Section 230, the family’s lawyers allege. They say in court papers that the company “knowingly permitted ISIS to post on YouTube hundreds of radicalizing videos inciting violence” that helped the group recruit supporters, some of whom then conducted terrorist attacks. -NBC News
Lawyers for Gonzalez’s family say YouTube’s video recommendations were key to ISIS’s ability to spread their message.