What happens when the rules of the internet are challenged? The Supreme Court is answering that question now as they hear Gonzalez v. Google, where Google is being sued, as the owner of YouTube, for the YouTube algorithm recommending terrorist content.
Josh Bentley, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Strategic Communication, spoke with Caroline Vandergriff at CBS 11 News to help explain the implications and impact of Gonzalez v. Google on Section 230, a section of Title 47 of the United States Code that was enacted as part of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. Section 230 is one of the core foundations of the internet as it provides service providers immunity from liability when publishing content created by others on the internet—this includes social media companies.
“Certainly, YouTube did not create these videos. But their algorithm did push these videos to certain people,” Dr. Bentley explains. “If the Supreme Court changes what people think or the rules of the road on the internet right now and says algorithms that promote content can get you sued – that is going to be a huge transformation in the way that all of these companies function.”
That isn’t to say that change is unnecessary, but Dr. Bentley cautioned that fixing this issue isn’t easy or fast. “As we try to reform it, we just need to go slow. Let’s be cautious. Let’s not break it on our way to trying to make it better,” Dr. Bentley said.