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Attorney General Drummond: No more immunity for Big Tech

OKLAHOMA C ITY (April 22, 2024) – Attorney General Drummond is urging the United States Supreme Court to consider a case that could dramatically limit the immunity that shields Big Tech companies from civil lawsuits. 

The case, styled as Doe v Snap, involves a young man seeking to hold Snapchat accountable for its role in his being a victim of sexual abuse. The social media platform has so far been able to use Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to shield itself from any accountability. 

An amicus brief filed by Drummond and 22 other states argues that Section 230 has been misinterpreted by lower courts and asks the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case and realign the law with its text and intended purposes.

“Big Tech companies should not be held harmless when they fail to protect users from abuse,” said Drummond. “Social media is capable of much good, but those who run these platforms must also be accountable for the negative – and dangerous – consequences to which they’ve turned a blind eye. I am proud to join this bipartisan coalition in urging the Supreme Court to step in and ensure justice.”

In the underlying case, a 15-year-old boy was groomed by his teacher using Snapchat, which automatically deletes messages. The teacher sent the child explicit content to coerce him into a sexual relationship and drug use. The boy sued Snapchat, saying it facilitated the abuse with its defective design.

A Texas district court dismissed the suit early and a panel of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, both courts indicating they were bound by precedents providing broad immunity under Section 230.

In a strong seven-judge dissent from denial of rehearing en banc, Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod wrote:

"Power must be tempered by accountability. But this is not what our circuit’s interpretation of Section 230 does. On the one hand, platforms have developed the ability to monitor and control how all of us use the internet, exercising a power reminiscent of an Orwellian nightmare. On the other, they are shielded as mere forums for information, which cannot themselves be held to account for any harms that result.  This imbalance is in dire need of correction by returning to the statutory text."

In the recently filed amicus brief, the attorneys general note, “Plaintiffs have gone after platforms for their role in sex trafficking and abuse, the proliferation of child pornography, cyberbullying and harassment, terrorism, trafficking illegal drugs and guns, and more. Courts have mostly blocked such lawsuits under section 230 – largely at the pleadings stage, when a plaintiff’s allegations, in all their horror, are taken as true …. As companies have racked up victory after victory, year after year, they have become increasingly brazen in condoning and aiding dangerous and illegal conduct on their platforms.”

Drummond is joined in the brief by the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and the District of Columbia.

Read the brief at