Crime & Justice

US Supreme Court declines to hold Twitter responsible for terror attack

Washington, May 18 (EFE).- The United States Supreme Court ruled Thursday in favor of Twitter in a case brought against the social media platform on behalf of a victim of a 2017 terrorist attack by ISIS.

All nine justices rejected the plaintiffs’ assertion that Twitter bore responsibility for the attack in Istanbul that claimed the life of Nawras Alassaf because the platform failed to remove some ISIS content.

The case was brought under a US law that allows companies to be sued for providing support to terrorism.

“To be sure, it might be that bad actors like ISIS are able to use platforms like defendants’ for illegal – and sometimes terrible – ends. But the same could be said of cell phones, email, or the internet generally,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote.

“Yet, we generally do not think that internet or cell service providers incur culpability merely for providing their services to the public,” he continued. “Nor do we think that such providers would normally be described as aiding and abetting, for example, illegal drug deals brokered over cell phones.”

Pursuant to the decision in Twitter v. Taamneh, the justices sent a similar suit against Google back to the lower courts.

In that second case, the family of Nohemi Gonzalez, who died in a 2015 ISIS attack in Paris, contended that Google subsidiary YouTube fostered radicalization by recommending pro-ISIS videos to users.

Both suits represented challenges to Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which shields social media companies from liability for the words or actions of users.

The lawmakers who wrote Section 230 said that Congress intended to allow websites wide latitude in decisions about content.

In a brief filed last December, President Joe Biden’s administration said that the conduct of Twitter and Google in the respective cases was protected by Section 230.

Though the court was unanimous in rejecting the arguments put forward by the plaintiffs in Twitter v. Taamneh and Gonzalez v. Google, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson said in a concurring opinion that the rulings were “narrow in important respects” and did not necessarily establish precedents.

Other cases presenting different allegations and different records may lead to different conclusions,” she wrote.

EFE jdg/dr

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