Supreme Court Allows Reddit Mods To Anonymously Defend Section 230 – Slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Over the past few days, dozens of tech companies have filed briefs in support of Google in a Supreme Court case that tests online platforms’ liability for recommending content. Obvious stakeholders like Meta and Twitter, alongside popular platforms like Craigslist, Etsy, Wikipedia, Roblox, and Tripadvisor, urged the court to uphold Section 230 immunity in the case or risk muddying the paths users rely on to connect with each other and discover information online. Out of all these briefs, however, Reddit’s was perhaps the most persuasive (PDF). The platform argued on behalf of everyday Internet users, whom it claims could be buried in “frivolous” lawsuits for frequenting Reddit, if Section 230 is weakened by the court. Unlike other companies that hire content moderators, the content that Reddit displays is “primarily driven by humans — not by centralized algorithms.” Because of this, Reddit’s brief paints a picture of trolls suing not major social media companies, but individuals who get no compensation for their work recommending content in communities. That legal threat extends to both volunteer content moderators, Reddit argued, as well as more casual users who collect Reddit “karma” by upvoting and downvoting posts to help surface the most engaging content in their communities.

“Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act famously protects Internet platforms from liability, yet what’s missing from the discussion is that it crucially protects Internet users — everyday people — when they participate in moderation like removing unwanted content from their communities, or users upvoting and downvoting posts,” a Reddit spokesperson told Ars. Reddit argues in the brief that such frivolous lawsuits have been lobbed against Reddit users and the company in the past, and Section 230 protections historically have consistently allowed Reddit users to “quickly and inexpensively” avoid litigation. […]

The Supreme Court will have to weigh whether Reddit’s arguments are valid. To help make its case defending Section 230 immunity protections for recommending content, Reddit received special permission from the Supreme Court to include anonymous comments from Reddit mods in its brief. This, Reddit’s spokesperson notes, is “a significant departure from normal Supreme Court procedure.” The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit defending online privacy, championed the court’s decision to allow moderators to contribute comments anonymously. “We’re happy the Supreme Court recognized the First Amendment rights of Reddit moderators to speak to the court about their concerns,” EFF’s senior staff attorney, Sophia Cope, told Ars. “It is quite understandable why those individuals may be hesitant to identify themselves should they be subject to liability in the future for moderating others’ speech on Reddit.”

“Reddit users that interact with third-party content — including ‘hosting’ content on a sub-Reddit that they manage, or moderating that content — could definitely be open to legal exposure if the Court carves out “recommending’ from Section 230’s protections, or otherwise narrows Section 230’s reach,” Cope told Ars.

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