Press Release

ADL Urges Supreme Court Interpretation of Section 230 to Protect Social Media Users from Harm

New York, NY, December 8, 2022 … ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court urging it to make clear that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act does not automatically immunize platforms from the consequences of their own actions when they spread dangerous hate and extremist content in ways that produce harm.  

The case, Gonzalez v. Google, brought by the family of an American woman killed in an ISIS attack on a Parisian café, raises questions about whether Section 230 protects internet platforms when their algorithms target users and recommend problematic content, such as terrorist propaganda.

ADL has long called for the interpretation of Section 230 to be updated, as the law, as currently applied by the lower courts, provides sweeping immunity for tech platforms even when platform product features and other conduct contribute to unlawful behavior—including violence. ADL’s brief, in support of neither party, asserts that Section 230 has been interpreted too broadly by those courts.

“For too long Section 230 has been misinterpreted by lower courts as granting near-blanket immunity to social media companies from the threat of liability,” said Lauren Krapf, ADL Technology Policy and Advocacy Counsel. “Platforms are doing more than merely statically hosting extremist content: they are recommending it, amplifying it, and even auto-generating content. It should be possible to challenge social media companies’ actions in court when their own tools have helped facilitate offline harm. At the same time, social media companies need to be able to rely on crucial provisions of Section 230 to moderate third-party content when it is harmful and violates their community guidelines.”

One element of ADL’s REPAIR Plan, which calls for a whole-of-society response to online hate and harassment, supports updating Section 230 to ensure that tech companies can be held accountable for content that foments hate and bigotry when their own tools exacerbate it in ways that produce harm, while still protecting free speech.

ADL’s brief may be viewed here. A decision in the case is expected in June 2023. 


ADL is the leading anti-hate organization in the world. Founded in 1913, its timeless mission is “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of antisemitism and bias, using innovation and partnerships to drive impact. A global leader in combating antisemitism, countering extremism and battling bigotry wherever and whenever it happens, ADL works to protect democracy and ensure a just and inclusive society for all.