Cybersecurity & Tech

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Twitter in Taamneh, Remands Gonzalez

Hyemin Han
Thursday, May 18, 2023, 11:13 AM
The companion cases mark a major decision in platform liability for terrorist material hosted on their services.

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

On May 18, the Supreme Court gave decisions for two cases relating to platforms' liability for terrorist material promulgated on their services. It decided in favor of Twitter in Taamneh v. Twitter and sent Gonzalez v. Google back to the Ninth Circuit in light of its decision in Taamneh.

In Taamneh v. Twitter, the Court was deciding on the extent to which Twitter was liable for aiding and abetting ISIS for its terrorist acts by not working more aggressively to remove terrorist content on its platform. The statutes in question were the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) and the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA). The Court found that the petitioners failed to demonstrate that Twitter “intentionally provided any substantial aid to the Reina attack or otherwise consciously participated in Reina attack,” calling such a nexus “far removed.” It reversed the Ninth Circuit’s decision.

In light of its decision in Taamneh, the Court remanded Gonzalez v. Google to the Ninth Circuit. A primary question in Gonzalez v. Google is the scope of protections outlined in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. Section 230 holds that social media platforms cannot be considered “publisher or speaker” of users’ content, and thus cannot be held liable for such content. 

You can read the opinion for Taamneh v. Twitter here and the remand notice for Gonzalez v. Google here, or below. You can read more about the two cases here.

Hyemin Han is an associate editor of Lawfare and is based in Washington, D.C. Previously, she worked in eviction defense and has interned on Capitol Hill and with the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. She holds a BA in government from Dartmouth College, where she was editor-in-chief of The Dartmouth independent daily.

Subscribe to Lawfare