Google’s Brief to the Supreme Court Explains Why We Need Section 230

“”If Section 230 does not apply to how YouTube organizes third-party videos, petitioners and the government have no coherent theory that would save search recommendations and other basic software tools that organize an otherwise unnavigable flood of websites, videos, comments, messages, product listings, files, and other information,” Google wrote in its brief.

Virtually any online service that hosts third-party content uses algorithms to filter content to great effect, Google noted. Without algorithmic sorting, its own search engine would be an “unordered, spam-filled” mess. Further, if recommending content vaporizes a platform’s Section 230 protections, the company argued, such platforms as Amazon, Lexis (which publishes law review articles), and TripAdvisor (which hosts business reviews) would be legally liable for all their user content as well. 

Both Democrats and Republicans would like to functionally repeal Section 230 in order to bring Big Tech under the thumb of Congress.”

“Without Section 230, Google, Facebook, and numerous other platforms would have to severely restrict what they allow users to publish. A world in which Facebook could be held liable for user posts is one in which Facebook would not want users posting very much at all. Everything from restaurant reviews to criticism of government officials could be seen by platforms as too legally risky to host.”

“Opponents of Section 230 misunderstand the workings and utility of algorithms and drastically underestimate the work it does to encourage free expression and debate. Without Section 230 protections, many platforms would be forced to either permit all content (to avoid any appearance of behaving like a publisher) or enforce draconian content-moderation policies to ensure no objectionable content can be used against them in court. In short, some platforms would become hateful, filthy hellscapes, and others might be too boring to retain users. “

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