Four ways the Supreme Court could reshape the web

Four ways the Supreme Court could reshape the web

Four ways the Supreme Court could reshape the web

Scenario 1: One or both cases are rejected or returned.

Several judges expressed confusion as to what González the case was in dispute and how the case made it all the way to the Supreme Court. The plaintiff’s lawyers have been criticized for their poor arguments and there is speculation that the case could be thrown out. That would mean the Supreme Court could avoid ruling on Section 230 and send a clear signal that Congress should address the issue. There is also a chance that the Taamneh the case could return to the trial court.

Scenario 2: Google wins Gonzálezbut the way section 230 is interpreted changes.

When the Supreme Court renders a verdict, it also issues opinions on the verdict. These opinions offer legal justifications that change how lower courts interpret the decision and the law going forward. So even if Google wins, that doesn’t necessarily mean the court won’t write something that changes the way Section 230 is interpreted.

It is possible that the court will open a whole new Pandora’s box if it does. For example, there was a lot of talk about “neutral algorithms” during the closing arguments, tapping into the age-old myth that technology can be separated from complex and messy societal problems. It is unclear exactly what would constitute algorithmic neutrality, and much has been written about the inherently non-neutral nature of AI.

Scenario 3: The Taamneh decision becomes the heavyweight.

The pleadings in Taamneh seemed to have more teeth. The judges seemed more aware of the case’s basics and the questions centered on how he should interpret the terrorism law. While the arguments don’t mention Section 230, the findings could still change how platforms are held accountable for content moderation.

Arguments in Taamneh centered on what Twitter knew about how ISIS used its platform and whether the company’s actions (or inactions) led to ISIS being recruited. If the court agrees with Taamneh, platforms could be incentivized to shy away from potentially illegal content so they can claim immunity, which could make the internet less safe. On the other hand, Twitter said it relies on government authorities to notify the company of terrorist content, which could raise further free speech questions.

Scenario 4: Section 230 is repealed.

That now seems unlikely, and if it did, chaos would ensue, at least among tech executives. However, the upside is that Congress could be pushed to pass comprehensive legislation holding the platforms accountable for the damage they cause.

(If you want even more SCOTUS content, here are some great takes from Michael Kanaan, who was the first president of artificial intelligence for the US Air Force, and Danielle LemonAVU law professor, among many observers.)

What else am I reading this week

  • The European Union has banned TikTok on its staff’s devices. This is just the latest government crackdown on the Chinese social media app. Many U.S. states have banned use of the app among government employees due to concerns (raised by the FBI) ​​of Chinese Communist Party espionage and influence operations, and the Biden administration passed a temporary ban on the app on federal devices in December.
  • This beautiful story from Wired by Vauhini Vara talks about the grip of large technological platforms on our lives and our economies, even when we try to escape them. Vara details how Buy Nothing, a movement of people trying to limit their consumption by exchanging free stuff, tried to quit Facebook and launch its own app, and the resulting mess.
  • Biden visited Kyiv for a surprise trip on the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. I recommend reading this highly entertaining press pool report from Sabrina Siddiqui of The Wall Street Journal which details preparations for the secret trip.

What I learned this week

Young people seem to trust what influencers have to say about politics…a lot. A new study by researchers from Pennsylvania State University’s Media Effects Research Lab suggests that social media influencers can be a “powerful asset to political campaigns.” This is because the trust between their supporters carries over to the political messages.

The study involved a survey of nearly 400 American college students. He revealed that influencers’ political posts have a significant impact on the political views of their followers, especially if they are seen as trustworthy, knowledgeable or attractive.

Influencers, national and local, are increasingly prominent in political campaigns. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, this remains concerning: other researchers have noted that people are particularly vulnerable to the risk of misinformation from influencers.


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