This decision comes as the latest development in the ongoing debate over the broad immunity offered to online platforms under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
The Supreme Court has declined to hear a case involving a victim of sex trafficking who sought to hold Reddit accountable for hosting child pornography images on its platform
The case presented an opportunity for the Supreme Court to address the scope of immunity for tech companies. However, legal experts suggest that the Court’s decision not to review the case indicates that they are unlikely to revisit Section 230 anytime soon. Instead, any changes to the law are expected to be left to Congress.
The victim, identified as “Jane Doe,” along with parents of minors coerced into providing explicit images, argued that Reddit created a platform that facilitated child pornography and sex trafficking. According to court documents, Doe was a minor when her then-boyfriend posted multiple explicit videos of them online, some without her knowledge. She reported the content to Reddit, but it took days to remove and was later reposted.
Lower courts ruled that Section 230 grants immunity to Reddit, preventing such claims from moving forward
Reddit’s lawyers stated that the platform diligently works to prevent the sharing of child pornography and has strict content policies prohibiting the dissemination of such materials. They argued that Reddit should not be held responsible as the creator of unlawful content.
This Supreme Court decision comes shortly after Google and Twitter were granted similar protections under Section 230 in a case involving terrorist-related content. While there are other significant tech-related cases pending, the Court’s reluctance to take up the Reddit case suggests that changes to Section 230 will likely require congressional action.