Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a pair of unanimous rulings in Twitter v. Taamneh and Gonzalez v. Google, related cases that had the potential to upend the Internet and weaken Section 230 protections. Brought under anti-terrorism statutes, the cases sought to hold social media platforms liable for international terrorist attacks because terrorists used their platforms generally and in some cases their content was algorithmically recommended to other users. The Supreme Court rejected invitations to rewrite Section 230, instead holding that such generalized allegations are insufficient to state a claim, rendering arguments about 230 moot.

The Supreme Court did what the Ninth Circuit should have done in the first place,” said Ari Cohn, Free Speech Counsel at TechFreedom. “These claims were never viable, and turning them into a battle over Section 230 was never necessary.” 

Ruling that the platforms did not intentionally aid specific acts of terrorism, the unanimous Taamneh Court noted that all content is sorted by algorithms, and that using content-agnostic recommendation algorithms is insufficient to create liability.

Notably, the two justices who have been most critical of Section 230 and Internet platforms said nothing of the sort here,” concluded Cohn. “Justice Thomas has repeatedly criticized Section 230 in past opinions arguing that the Court should have granted review of cases involving 230’s interpretation. Not only did he not do that here, he actually wrote the Court’s unanimous opinion in Taamneh. His questions at oral argument in Gonzalez made clear just how differently he thought about the law once he’d the benefit of seeing both sides fully brief their positions.” 


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