Federal Appeals Court: Section 230 Doesn’t Protect Snapchat out of Lawsuit Alleging Its’Speed Filter’ Caused Fatal Car Crash

A federal appeals court Tuesday ruled that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act does not immunize Snapchat in a lawsuit asserting that its”Rate Filter” led to the deaths of 2 boys that died in a car accident while using the app to list themselves moving 123 mph.
The lawsuit was filed by the boys’ surviving parents and alleged that the filter–that essentially functions as a speedometer by capturing a user’s speed over the social media program –has been negligently made and encouraged their children to drive at dangerous speeds.
According to the lawsuit, Jason Davis, 17, Hunter Morby, 17, and Landen Brown, 20, at 2017 were driving at high rates on Cranberry Road at Wisconsin when the vehicle ran off the street and hit a tree moving approximately 113 miles and burst in flames. Before the crash, Brown had opened the Snapchat Speed Filter on his Cell Phone
Snapchat responded by asserting that the business was guarded by Section 230 since the Rate Filter is nothing more than a content generation tool within the system that needs actual publishing to come from third-party users. In short, the business contended that holding it liable for creating the filter could in effect be making it liable for third-party content in breach of the law.

However a three-judge panel over the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Tuesday reversed Fitzgerald’s decision, reasoning that the fundamental problem in the case concerned Snapchat’s product design, not whether it had been accountable for content created and posted by users within the app.
“Plaintiffs’ negligent design lawsuit handled Snap, Inc. as a products manufacturer, accusing it of negligently designing a commodity (Snapchat) using a flaw (that the interplay between Snapchat’s reward system and also its rate Filter); thus, the duty that Snap, Inc. allegedly violated surfaced from its different capacity for a product designer,” the court stated.
“In short, Snap, Inc. was sued for the predictable effects of designing Snapchat in such a way that it allegedly encouraged hazardous behaviour. Thus, the panel reasoned that Breeze, Inc. didn’t like immunity from this suit under? 230.”
According to the courtthe difference in the underlying claim was critical since a cause of action against a manufacturer for negligent design demands a markedly distinct legal investigation in relation to an action brought against a publisher as defined under the Communications Decency Act.
“It is so evident that the Parents’ amended complaint does not seek to maintain Snap liable for its behavior as a writer or speaker,” the court wrote. “Their hierarchical layout lawsuit treats Snap as a products manufacturer, accusing it of negligently designing a commodity (Snapchat) with a flaw (that the interplay between Snapchat’s reward system and also the Rate Filter). Therefore, the responsibility that Snap allegedly violated”springs out of” its different capacity for a product designer.”

Read the entire judgment below.
9th Circuit Snapchat Sec. 230 Ruling by Law&Crime on Scribd
[image via YouTube screengrab]
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