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Supreme Court Declines to Hear Appeal Seeking to Hold Reddit Accountable for Hosting User-Posted Child Porn

Supreme Court Declines to Hear Appeal Seeking to Hold Reddit Accountable for Hosting User-Posted Child Porn

The Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal seeking to hold Reddit liable for hosting child pornography that was user-posted on its website.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court rejected the case from a group of unnamed victims and their parents seeking to appeal a lower court's decision.

The group sought to challenge Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields online platforms from being held liable over user-posted content.

“After the justices avoided any meaningful ruling on the scope of immunity for tech companies in the Google case, today’s denial of review in the Reddit case suggests that their aversion was more than just about the Google case, specifically – and that the court is willing, at least for now, to leave any changes to Section 230 to Congress,” Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law, told CNN. “There are other important big tech cases in the pipeline, but this seems to confirm that the justices aren’t going to come back to Section 230 anytime soon.”

The lawsuit was brought on by a woman identified as "Jane Doe," as well as parents who say that their minor daughters were coerced into taking explicit photos that were later posted on Reddit.

CNN reports that "Doe’s lawyer said in court papers that she was a minor when her then-boyfriend created multiple videos of the two of them engaging in sex, sometimes without her knowledge, and posted them online. She reported the content to Reddit and said it took days to remove the content but then allowed it to be reposted."

Lawyers representing the victim argued in the lawsuit that Reddit “creates a thriving platform for child pornography and sex trafficking” and that it “knowingly benefits from child sex trafficking through its receipt and distribution of child pornography.”

District and federal courts have said that Reddit has immunity due to Section 230 protections.

The victim's attorneys argued that Section 230 does not apply because of the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2018 (“FOSTA”), which says that Section 230 immunity "does not apply to child sex trafficking claims if the conduct underlying the claim also violates 18 U.S.C. § 1591, the criminal child sex trafficking statute."

However, the United States District Court for the Central District of California concluded that "plaintiffs did not allege that Reddit knowingly participated in or benefitted from a sex trafficking venture, and they therefore failed to state a sex trafficking claim."

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