Court of Appeals Rules Snapchat Filter Leaves Company Liable

A Ninth Court of Appeals ruling may break precedent and cause a major social media platform to be sued for content. The three-judge panel overturned a district court decision and said the families of three teens killed in a car accident could sue Snap Inc. over a Snapchat filter that recorded speed of travel. The teens reached 123 miles per hour in the car and opened the platform to show their speed. The car crashed into a tree and killed all in the vehicle.

The surviving families sued the tech company, claiming the filter created a risk for such behavior and Snapchat bore some responsibility. The initial ruling sided with the defendant, following traditional Section 230 law interpretation that makes websites and platforms immune to lawsuits based on posted content. However, the San Francisco-based court concluded that this did not fit this instance. Rather, the existence of the Snapchat filter creates a hazardous product and leaves the company liable. Despite the warnings, the filter resides on a platform popular with newer drivers who are more inclined to use it to exhibit high-speed antics.

The ruling could create new pathways for consumer lawsuits against tech companies and their ever-evolving cadre of products and services. Platform designs or questionable methods can create harm to customers and those are not covered by Section 230 law. The case will go back to a local district court, but a Supreme Court ruling could be coming.

Tech companies provide incredible products, but some can be dangerous. If you have been injured or wronged, having an experienced attorney makes all the difference. The consumer law team at Francis Mailman Soumilas, P.C. have over 20 years of cases at all levels to help you achieve the best possible result and maybe restore some lost peace of mind. Call today at 215-735-8600 or contact us online for a free consultation. We are proud to be based in Philadelphia and serve clients nationwide.