Section 230 Dodges Another Judicial Bullet

The June 10, 2020 and July 22, 2019 posts on Trending Law Blogs discussed, among other things, how Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, 47 U.S.C. §230 (c)(1) (hereafter “§230”), has come under attack by politicians who seek to remove the §230 immunity that protects internet platforms such as Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft and Facebook when they are sued for re-publishing content on their websites which is provided by a third-party.

On March 7, 2022, §230 staved off an attack by a private plaintiff in Texas who challenged Facebook’s §230 protection when the Supreme Court of the United States denied the plaintiff’s petition for certiorari. According to the Petition for Writ of Certiorari, the plaintiff claimed she was sex trafficked as a minor “because Facebook’s products connected her with a sex trafficker.” Facebook asserted it was “completely immune from suit” under §230. After the Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of Facebook, plaintiff appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the Court to rule on whether §230 provided immunity from suit to internet platforms “in any case arising from the publication of third-party content, regardless of the platform’s own misconduct.”

The Supreme Court, however, denied the petition, leaving unsettled the question posed by the Texas plaintiff regarding the broad scope of immunity to internet platforms under §230. Interestingly, Justice Clarence Thomas, who agreed with the denial of certiorari, issued an accompanying statement to explain that while he agreed that the matter before the Court was not appropriate for review by the Supreme Court, Justice Thomas did call for the Court “to address the proper scope of immunity under §230” in a future appropriate case.

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For any questions relating to this article, please contact Robert B. Nussbaum, Esq. at Saiber LLC.