Can I hold social media responsible for personal injuries?
Product liability is a branch of personal injury with a long and storied history. It allows consumers to sue manufacturers that produce defective and dangerous products. It gives New York, New York, victims a path to civil justice and to be made whole again, at least financially. However, one type of company has largely been able to avoid such lawsuits, social media. However, over the past few years, some have found success.
Why have they been able to avoid liability?
Social media’s liability shield comes from Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. This law shields platforms that allow users to post content from the liability of that content. This is why they argue that, as platforms, if their users harm other users, they cannot be held liable. Courts are split on this point.
Recent federal split decisions
Two recent federal cases against two social media platforms, Omegle.com LLC and Snap Inc., provide a prime example of how federal courts treat these cases. Both cases are video-based social media platforms. Omegle randomly assigns people to video chat with each other, and Snap is a peer-to-peer video-sharing platform. Both were accused of facilitating the sexual abuse of minors.
Snap’s case was tried in a federal court in Texas. That court found Snap was protected by Section 230 because the social media qualified as a platform, not a maker. Conversely, the Oregon federal court in the Omegle case found that social media platform qualified as a maker, and they are responsible for defects in their software, if defects are eventually found.
The key issue
As our New York, New York, readers can likely tell, the key issue on whether a social media platform has liability is whether the harm stems from a software defect or from the users themselves. Court, as these two cases demonstrate, do not entirely agree on how to make this determination.
This means you have options
For our New York, New York, readers, these personal injury cases mean that there are options for those harmed by social media companies. However, it also means that it is going to be a long, drama-laden legal battle. With that said, at the end of the day, getting your day in court is well worth the time.