In the case of Doe v. Snap, Inc., the plaintiff, John Doe, was sexually abused by his high school teacher when he was 15 years old. The teacher, Bonnie Guess-Mazock, pleaded guilty to this crime. Doe’s teacher used Snapchat to send him sexually explicit material. Doe sought to hold Snap, Inc., the company that owns Snapchat, responsible for allegedly encouraging this abuse. However, the district court and a panel of the court rejected his claims based on a circuit’s atextual interpretation of the Communications Decency Act’s Section 230. The court interpreted Section 230 over a decade ago to provide broad-based immunity to social media companies, which the text cannot possibly support. Doe brings a design defect claim, alleging that Snap should have stronger age-verification requirements to help shield minors from potential predators and that Snap “buries its head in the sand and remains silent.” This interpretation of Section 230 is unmoored from the text and background legal principles. The court’s atextual transformation of Section 230 into a blunt instrument granting near-total immunity has rendered it particularly ill-suited to the realities of the modern internet. The court’s interpretation creates an imbalance in terms of the power and accountability of internet platforms. Large, modern-day internet platforms monitor and monetize content, yet are shielded as mere forums for information, which cannot themselves be held accountable for any harms that result. This imbalance is in dire need of correction by returning to the statutory text. “Paring back the sweeping immunity courts have read into § 230 would not necessarily render defendants liable for online misconduct. It simply would give plaintiffs a chance to raise their claims in the first place.” Doe’s claims have been denied under the Communications Decency Act at the motion to dismiss stage, without even the chance for discovery. We should be certain that this powerful immunity is what Congress intended before granting it.

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