Supreme Court has rejected a lawsuit claiming Facebook provided “material support” to terrorists

The Supreme Court has rejected a lawsuit claiming Facebook provided “material support” to terrorists by hosting their content. It declined to listen to Force v. Facebook, a case brought by the families of 5 Americans who were hurt or killed by Palestinian attacks in Israel. The suit had already been dealt a significant blow last year, strengthening a legal precedent against suing social media platforms over terrorist attacks.

The 2016 lawsuit Force v. Facebook argued that Facebook knowingly hosted accounts belonging to Hamas, which the US classifies as a terrorist group . Websites generally can’t be sued for user-created content under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, but the complaint contended Facebook’s algorithm promoted terrorist content to people that liked similar pages or posts, saying that ought to reduce its immunity.

The Second Circuit appeals court found that logic unconvincing. It shot down the complaint last year, saying there was “no basis” for creating Facebook liable because it arranged content with algorithms. instead of being a singular property of Facebook’s recommendation system, displaying material that specific users want to click on “has been a fundamental results of publishing third‐party content on the web since its beginning.” The Supreme Court didn’t touch upon why it rejected the case, but it let that ruling stand. It’s previously declined to listen to a harassment-related lawsuit against Grindr that hinged on Section 230 also as a case involving defamatory Yelp reviews.

Force v. Facebook was one among many lawsuits against social media platforms for allegedly spreading terrorist propaganda or playing a task in violent attacks. These suits are almost universally unsuccessful — including one case brought by the families of Pulse nightclub shooting victims and a number of other associated with ISIS terrorism. The rulings don’t all invoke Section 230, but it’s one among social media companies’ key defenses, and today’s rejection preserves its legal heft.

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