The tech giant is going to bat for AI's role in keeping the internet safe


(Image credit: Shutterstock / Bob Korn)

Google has warned that a ruling against it in an ongoing Supreme Court (SC) case could put the entire internet at risk by removing a key protection against lawsuits over content moderation decisions that involve artificial intelligence (AI).

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (opens in new tab) currently offers a blanket ‘liability shield’ in regards to how companies moderate content on their platforms. 

However, as reported by CNN (opens in new tab), Google wrote in a legal filing (opens in new tab) that, should the SC rule in favour of the plaintiff in the case of Gonzalez v. Google, which revolves around YouTube’s algorithms recommending pro-ISIS content to users, the internet could become overrun with dangerous, offensive, and extremist content.

Automation in moderation

Being part of an almost 27-year-old law, already targeted for reform by US President Joe Biden (opens in new tab), Section 230 isn’t equipped to legislate on modern developments such as artificially intelligent algorithms, and that’s where the problems start.

The crux of Google’s argument is that the internet has grown so much since 1996 that incorporating artificial intelligence into content moderation solutions has become a necessity. “Virtually no modern website would function if users had to sort through content themselves,” it said in the filing. 

“An abundance of content” means that tech companies have to use algorithms in order to present it to users in a manageable way, from search engine results, to flight deals, to job recommendations on employment websites. 

Google also addressed that under existing law, tech companies simply refusing to moderate their platforms is a perfectly legal route to avoid liability, but that this puts the internet at risk of being a “virtual cesspool”. 

The tech giant also pointed out that YouTube’s community guidelines expressly disavow terrorism, adult content, violence and “other dangerous or offensive content” and that it is continually tweaking its algorithms to pre-emptively block prohibited content. 

It also claimed that “approximately”  95% of videos violating YouTube’s ‘Violent Extremism policy’ were automatically detected in Q2 2022.

Nevertheless, the petitioners in the case maintain that YouTube has failed to remove all Isis-related content, and in doing so, has assisted “the rise of ISIS” to prominence. 

Read more

> Google is offering your SMB website free anti-terrorism moderation tools (opens in new tab)
> How Reddit turned its millions of users into a content moderation army (opens in new tab)
> We’ve also listed the best free web filters right now (opens in new tab)

In an attempt to further distance itself from any liability on this point, Google responded by saying that YouTube’s algorithms recommends content to users based on similarities between a piece of content and the content a user is already interested in.

This is a complicated case and, although it’s easy to subscribe to the idea that the internet has gotten too big for manual moderation, it’s just as convincing to suggest that companies should be held accountable when their automated solutions fall short. 

After all, if even tech giants can’t guarantee what’s on their website, users of filters and parental controls can’t be sure that they’re taking effective action to block offensive content.

    Are you a pro? Subscribe to our newsletter

    Sign up to theTechRadar Pro newsletter to get all the top news, opinion, features and guidance your business needs to succeed!

    By submitting your information you agree to the Terms & Conditions (opens in new tab) and Privacy Policy (opens in new tab) and are aged 16 or over.

    Luke Hughes

    Graduate Writer

    Luke Hughes holds the role of Graduate Writer at TechRadar Pro, producing news, features and deals content across topics ranging from computing to cloud services, cybersecurity, data privacy and business software.


    Xiaomi phone with Samsung E6 OLED breaks Android display brightness record

    Samsung recently showcased its newest OLED panel—E6 Super AMOLED—for smartphones that can reach up to 2,000 nits of peak brightness. It is the same panel used in the iPhone 14 Pro and the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Now, Android smartphone makers have started using the same panel, and Xiaomi’s ...

    View more: Xiaomi phone with Samsung E6 OLED breaks Android display brightness record

    Pixel 7 bug causes phone to freeze while watching YouTube and YouTube TV

    Despite being one of the best Android smartphones on the market, Google’s Pixel 7 suffers from several annoying bugs and problems that users have to contend with. One such bug has actually been plaguing users since the phone launched, but complaints continue to spring up. 9to5Google reports that the ...

    View more: Pixel 7 bug causes phone to freeze while watching YouTube and YouTube TV

    How to Install Any Add-on in Firefox for Android

    When Mozilla launched a re-designed version of Firefox for Android a few years back, it only came with support for a few add-ons – just for the sake of compatibility. Fast forward to present day and the restoration of full add-on support is not yet complete. The good news, ...

    View more: How to Install Any Add-on in Firefox for Android

    Newest Android version installed on a mere 5% of devices

    Android 13 is out of the reach of most users. In contrast, virtually all iPhone owners can install iOS 16. Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac It’s considered somewhat controversial that iOS 16 has been installed on only about 70% of iPhones four months after its release. But that’s a ...

    View more: Newest Android version installed on a mere 5% of devices

    Just How Popular Is Mobile Gaming on Android Devices?

    Mobile gaming exceeded any expectations regarding its profitability and popularity. Today is considered one of the fastest-growing entertainment sectors. It continues to attract new mobile gamers and expand the demographic of the gaming sector. In fact, it is one of the main reasons why gaming has become globally popular. ...

    View more: Just How Popular Is Mobile Gaming on Android Devices?

    Malware is Sneaking Into Google Search Ads

    Malware and viruses always, always, find a way. You need to be extra careful while browsing online, but sometimes, malware can still pop up in the places you least expect it — including in Google Search ads. Hackers and malware developers have set up fake websites for popular pieces ...

    View more: Malware is Sneaking Into Google Search Ads

    Five months after launching, Android 13 is running on 5.2% of devices

    In the past five months we’ve seen smartphone brands update their handsets to Android 13 as well as launch new models running this latest version of Android out of the box. While the likes of Samsung are leading the charge when it comes to issuing OS updates, there are ...

    View more: Five months after launching, Android 13 is running on 5.2% of devices

    You can now sign up for Twitter Blue on Android for $11 a month

    Ahh, Twitter. Gone are the days of applying for and failing to get verification for unspecified reasons, with Musk’s vision of Twitter Blue you can now sign up and pay your way to a verified tick. And from today onwards, you can even do so via the official Twitter ...

    View more: You can now sign up for Twitter Blue on Android for $11 a month

    Amazon, Meta and Google are actually spending big on clean energy

    Galaxy Tab S6 Lite (2020) gets Android 13 One UI 5.0 update

    10 Best Android Travel Apps To Plan Your Next Trip

    First post-Android 13 update to Galaxy A72 brings January 2023 security patch

    Galaxy A02 gets a new update but it’s not Android 12

    Google is testing way to measure distance between devices via Bluetooth

    Only 5.2% of devices running Android 13 five months after launch

    Galaxy S10 Lite Android 13 (One UI 5) update reaches the USA

    Everything you need to know on how to unlock Bluetooth support on the Stadia Controller

    How to back up and delete your Gmail so you don’t have to pay for storage

    Google’s rumored AirTag rival could be an Android moment for Bluetooth trackers

    US unlocked Galaxy S20 is finally getting Android 13 One UI 5


    Top Car News Car News