Products liability claims have long focused on physical products. As technology advances and software and social media play an ever-expanding role in our lives, novel products liability theories have emerged targeting social media platforms, software developers, and purveyors of new technologies on the grounds that these tech companies are “product sellers” and their communication platforms are “products.” However, these novel claims test the limits of products liability law and run afoul of basic products liability principles, as tech companies are not product sellers and the electronic communication platforms they offer are not products within the meaning of products liability law.
Section 230 Immunity
Tech companies enjoy broad protection from liability for online content posted to their social media platforms and electronic communication forums under Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. Section 230 immunizes these platforms and forums from liability for the content of their users’ posts. As most claims arising from the alleged misuse of social media or posting of potentially tortious content online concern the content itself, Section 230 has consistently been applied to protect tech companies from liability for claims based on the content of social media and electronic communication forums. Indeed, Section 230 has been used successfully as a shield against liability since before many of today’s largest tech companies were even founded.