Gus Hurwitz on 9th Circuit’s Snap ruling

Bloomberg Law – ICLE Director of Law & Economics Programs Gus Hurwitz was quoted by Bloomberg Law in an article about recent appellate court decisions involving cyberbullying and other areas of potential liability for tech platforms like Snapchat. You can read the full piece here.

Professor Justin (Gus) Hurwitz of the University of Nebraska College of Law said it’s hard to see user-generated content at the center of the speeding case. “So I’m not at all surprised that the court said this isn’t a Section 230 case, that there isn’t immunity here,” he said.

In the bullying case, others’ speech plays a much larger role, and the app maker will have a stronger argument that the content it published—not any inherent product feature—is so central that its role is more of an online publisher than product maker.

Is the new cyberbullying suit against Snap and two other companies, Yolo Technologies Inc. and LightSpace Inc., only about their apps’ architecture? “This is where the line gets blurry and why these cases can be tricky,” Hurwitz said.

“When you’re talking about cyberbullying,” he said, “you are concerned about the speakers who are engaging in speech to harm another person—at which point the platform is a traditional Section 230 interactive computer service.”

“The hard question that Section 230 cases have struggled with for a decade-plus is when the platform is trying to direct the speech,” or when it “encourages certain types of speech,” he said.