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Google, Twitter, Facebook and other tech companies fueled by social media have dodged a legal threat that could have blown a huge hole in their business models.
The U.S. Supreme Court delivered the reprieve Thursday by rejecting one lawsuit alleging social media platforms should be held liable for enabling a lethal attack on a Turkish nightclub and tossing another case back to a lower court.
Those moves, coming three months after the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the cases, preserve a law known as Section 230 that shields social media services from being held responsible for the material posted on their platforms.
Without the protection consisting of a mere 26 words tucked inside a broader reform of U.S. telecommunications adopted in 1996, Google, Facebook and other tech companies probably wouldn’t have been able to have grown as large as they are now. And their future prospects would dim if their platforms were stripped of their legal immunity.
But just because the Supreme Court sidestepped the prickly issue for now doesn’t mean there won’t be other cases brought that could result in adverse decisions down the line. This year’s high-profile oral arguments on the issue also highlighted the widely held feeling that Congress should revisit a law that was adopted before Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was even a teenager.
“We really don’t know about these things. You know, these are not like the nine greatest experts on the internet,” Justice Elena Kagan said of herself and her colleagues during February’s