CITRIS experts discuss Section 230, impacts of Google v. Gonzalez on free speech

U.S. Supreme Court Building.

As the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in on Google v. Gonzalez this week, several University of California experts, including CITRIS Policy Lab Director Brandie Nonnecke and CITRIS principal investigator Hany Farid, assert this case could be a defining moment for Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Section 230 protects social media platforms from being sued over allegedly harmful user-generated content while allowing the platforms to remove posts at their judgment. “If there are no protections for user-generated content,” said Farid, “I don’t think it’s hyperbolic to say that this is probably the end of social media.”

Nonnecke, who co-authored an amicus brief that urged the Supreme Court to apply Section 230’s liability shield to claims against providers for interactive content, is currently focusing on how the Supreme Court’s decision could affect free speech.

“We all agree with that if it’s illegal content and the [platforms] know it’s there, and they’re still sharing it and not removing it, that’s a problem,” Nonnecke said. However, she added that taking issue with recommended content is not necessarily “going to achieve the goal that Gonzalez wants of stopping the spread of harmful content.”