Headline RoundupMay 18th, 2023

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Big Tech, Declines to Address Section 230

AllSides Summary

The Supreme Court declined to address Section 230 and unanimously ruled in Google and Twitter’s favor in a pair of closely-watched cases on Thursday. 

The Details: In both cases, family members of victims of ISIS attacks sued the tech giants for allowing ISIS content on their platforms, which allegedly contributed to the attacks. While both sued under the Anti-Terrorism Act, the Google case also asked whether the tech giant was protected under Section 230, the law that says internet platforms are not liable for content others post on their sites.

Key Quotes: Writing for the court, Justice Clarence Thomas argued Twitter was not liable because plaintiffs had “failed to allege that defendants intentionally provided any substantial aid” or “otherwise consciously participated” in a 2017 ISIS attack in Istanbul, Turkey. On the Google case, the court issued a similar ruling and sidestepped the question of Section 230, saying, “We therefore decline to address the application of §230 to a complaint that appears to state little, if any, plausible claim for relief.”

How the Media Covered It: Headlines across the spectrum framed the rulings differently — such as letting Twitter off the hook or sidestepping Section 230 — giving slightly different impressions of the court’s relationship to the tech companies and the law. While Fox Business (Lean Right bias) highlighted “many conservatives arguing that [Section 230] needs to amended,” The New York Times (Lean Left bias) highlighted “a growing group of bipartisan lawmakers, academics and activists” concerned about “disinformation, discrimination and violent content” on tech platforms.

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