The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a major challenge to the legal shield known as Section 230 that has protected websites from being sued for what users post there.
In a short unsigned opinion, the court said it would not rule on the potentially momentous issue because the plaintiffs who sued had no valid claims that Twitter or Google had aided terrorists, which was the foundation of the lawsuit.
The outcome is likely to yield a sigh of relief from the websites that have grown and prospered thanks to protections set by Congress at the dawn of the internet.
“This is a huge win for free speech on the internet,” said NetChoice Litigation Center Director Chris Marchese. “The court was asked to undermine Section 230 — and declined.”
Earlier this year, the court heard its first major challenge to so-called Section 230, raising the possibility that social media sites and internet giants like Facebook, Google or Twitter could be subject to lawsuits for damage inflicted by what their users posted there.
But the justices concluded that the legal challenge rested on questionable lawsuits. They rejected an anti-terrorism claim filed against Twitter, and then dismissed the challenge to Section 230.
“We therefore decline to address the application of Sec. 230 to a complaint that appears to state little, if any, plausible claim for relief,” the court said in Gonzalez vs. Google.