Snapchat accused of fatal car accident: is the platform pushing teenagers to take risks, the court will figure it out
After three years of futile attempts to sue the popular Snapchat messenger, parents of teenagers killed in car crashes have a chance to bring the untouchable service to justice. It seems that the notorious and unshakable “Section 230” of the US Code of Laws, which exempts the owner of an Internet resource from responsibility for what users post on it, has cracked.
We will remind, in May 2017 in Walworth County, Wisconsin, three young people died in a car accident, filming themselves on Snapchat. According to the parents of one of the victims, the driver accelerated to 123 mph to capture top speed using Snapchat and share the dubious achievement with subscribers. They believe that teenagers would not do such a stupid thing if it were not for the actions of the Internet service.
The fact is that Snapchat allows you to use various filters online, including, among the popular functions, there is the ability to shoot video with a “speed filter.” To do this, the program tracks the device’s position using GPS sensors and displays the speed value on the video. Parents believe that the video service should be held responsible for what happened because it releases such tools, which motivates users to do desperate things in absentia.
The first attempts to at least bring Snapchat representatives to court were unsuccessful. It turns out that these kinds of tech companies fall under the protection of “Section 230” and are completely exempt from responsibility for the actions of users within the service. It doesn’t matter whether it is publishing inappropriate material or using the service for entertainment purposes in a dangerous situation – as in this case. Therefore, the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the application and dismissed the case without a trial.
After several years of vain attempts to bypass the notorious “Section 230”, the plaintiffs tried to go from the other side. If it is believed that Snapchat attracts users to commit any dangerous and unacceptable actions, then the case can be won in court. The service may not be responsible for the actions of users, but there will be punishment for the motivation to perform any action.
Of course, the situation has reached the point of absurdity – the law has existed since 1996, so it is impossible to consider its action absolutely correct now, to put it mildly. At the same time, bureaucratic delays remain in place, and the courts cannot directly do anything in such cases. This situation has already caused a wide resonance in society. The US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has become interested in the complicated case – this means that there is every chance to serve Snapchat with a subpoena and even win the case in favor of the injured party. Moreover, a victory in one case may open up prospects for bringing to justice other organizations that have previously also evaded responsibility and continue to work contrary to moral laws.