Oral arguments take place today in Twitter v. Taamneh. Here’s why it matters for creators and the creator economy…

It’s day two! Today, February 21, 2023, oral arguments take place in Twitter, Inc. v. Taamneh. Here’s why this matters for creators and the creator economy…

The second of two cases before the Supreme Court is Twitter v. Taamneh

Twitter v. Taamneh goes beyond Section 230 (and yesterday’s Gonzalez v. Google case) and implicates Section 2333 of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Section 2333 allows U.S. citizens to sue another person, or company, if they are found to aid, assist, or conspire with someone that commits an act of international terrorism.

The argument at issue in Twitter v. Taamneh stems from what role, if any, platforms including Twitter, Meta, and Google/YouTube had in the January 2017 attack that killed 39 people at the Reina nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey.

The Supreme Court is presented a narrow question, or sometimes a set of narrow questions, that are in dispute at lower courts. This is called a “question presented” which is what they’ll focus on answering.

For Twitter v. Taamneh, the Court is presented with two questions:
1️⃣ Whether a defendant that provides generic, widely available services to all its numerous users and “regularly” works to detect and prevent terrorists from using those services ‘knowingly’ provided substantial assistance under Section 2333 merely because it allegedly could have taken more “meaningful” or “aggressive” action to prevent such use.

2️⃣ Whether a defendant whose generic, widely available services were not used in connection with the specific “act of international terrorism” that injured the plaintiff may be liable for aiding and abetting under Section 2333.

⁉️ Why does this matter ⁉️

Two reasons:
🚩 Platforms forced to take on more liability for the actions of their users may implement more strict content standards and enforcement mechanisms, potentially impacting the ability of creators to create and share content in the same manners afforded under previous laws.

🚩 How courts determine “substantial assistance” and the application of any “aiding and abetting” claims could potentially impact the relationship that platforms take with their creator end users and the degree of content moderation and surveillance that would be necessary to avoid liability.

Vox provides an in-depth rundown of both the Taamneh case and Gonzalez v. Google.

Additionally, Bloomberg published a great exploration of how advertising revenue could be impacted by direct liability put on tech platforms. Read on Bloomberg or TechReport (no sub required).

Image Credit: Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States, with edits by me.