By Darrell M. West, John Villasenor, Mark MacCarthy
Social media platforms and search engines have increasingly become a major information hub. These platforms allow users to receive information while also sharing materials with a wide range of individuals. Yet, it is not clear how much responsibility these sites bear for the material published or the search recommendations made by their algorithms. In 1996, Congress enacted legislation that shields internet providers from legal liability for information published on their sites. For the past two decades, most judges have taken a broad view of that legal liability shield and have made rulings that exempt platforms from legal responsibility.
Now, there is a case coming before the Supreme Court that will test the scope of existing laws. The case, Gonzalez v. Google, could have profound consequences for social media sites and content moderation policies. However, the possibility exists that the Supreme Court could weigh in on challenges to state laws in Florida and Texas aiming to impose certain obligations on social media companies.
To discuss these important questions, vice president of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, Darrell West, is joined by two distinguished experts. John Villasenor is a nonresident senior fellow at Brookings and a professor of Engineering, Law, and Public Policy at UCLA. Mark MacCarthy is a nonresident senior fellow at Brookings and a senior fellow at the Institute for Technology, Law, and Policy at Georgetown University. Listen to their discussion of the legal issues facing the court and possible ramifications for users and businesses.