After nearly three hours of oral arguments, the justices seemed torn on how to proceed — and confused by the argument brought before them.
A number of the justices appeared frustrated at the arguments of Eric Schnapper, the attorney representing the family of U.S. citizen Nohemi Gonzalez, who was killed in a 2015 ISIS attack in Paris.
“I guess I’m thoroughly confused,” liberal Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson told Schnapper.
Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas shared a similar sentiment, and in the early moments of the argument said Schnapper needed to give the justices a “clearer point.”
“These are not, like, the nine greatest experts on the internet,” liberal Justice Elena Kagan later quipped.
The case centers on allegations raised by the Gonzalez family that Google subsidiary YouTube provided a platform for and used its algorithm to recommend terrorist content in a way that incited violence.
It targets Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which prevents internet companies, including Google, from being held liable for content posted by third parties.
But the case before the court focused particularly on whether those protections should apply to how companies create and deploy algorithmic recommendations.
“I take the point that there are a lot of algorithms that are not going to produce pro-ISIS content and that won’t create a problem under this statute. But maybe they’ll produce defamatory content or maybe they’ll produce content that violates some other law. And your argument can’t be limited to this one statute,” liberal Justice Elena Kagan said.
Lisa Blatt, who represented Google, said the protections provided under Section 230 “created today’s internet” and have allowed tech companies to innovate. She said undoing Section 230 could make the internet a "'Truman Show' vs. a horror show," with "anodyne, cartoon-like" content or violent hate speech.
We have more about the oral arguments and what they mean for the future of Section 230 in our full report at