By Jacob Davis
Тhe Ninth Circuit recently put Social Media companies on notice when it held that Section 230 does not immunize a defendant from liability in a products liability claim. The case involves Snap’s speedometer feature, which the plaintiff’s claim is inherently defective and caused a fatal crash. Social Media companies have been able to immunize themselves from liability under the first section of the Communications Decency Act: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.
In the Ninth Circuit case, the plaintiff’s claim that the defendant, Snap Inc., is liable under a theory of products liability, for the negligent design of its speedometer feature, survived the motion to dismiss. Prior courts have been hesitant to allow claims against Social Media companies to survive the pleadings phase. These other cases have turned on whether the alleged defect is related to the company’s role in editing or removing content.
The plaintiffs in the Ninth Circuit case attempted a new strategy which intends to hold the defendants liable as a product manufacturer, rather than a publisher or speaker. Under this theory, the Social Media platform is susceptible to liability because the Communications Decency Act does not preclude liability for Social Media companies acting in a product manufacturer capacity.
Plaintiff’s attorneys can now utilize a theory of products liability as a means to recover against social media giants, and indeed this shift has already begun. These lawsuits go after giants such as TikTok and Facebook, claiming that the sites are addictive. Ultimately, these claims will depend on whether courts are willing to characterize the companies as products manufacturers or publishers.
 See Lemmon v. Snap, Inc., 995 F.3d 1085 (9th Cir. 2021)
 47 U.S.C.S. §230 (Lexis 2022)
 See Restatement (Third) of Torts: Prod. Liab., § 2 (Am. L. Inst. 1998).
 Lemmon, 995 F.3d, at 1092 (alleging that the speedometer feature on Snapchat is inherently defective because it encouraged the plaintiff and others to drive at dangerous speeds).
 See generally, Herrick v. Grindr LLC, 765 Fed. Appx. 586 (2nd Cir. 2019) (granting motion to dismiss when plaintiff alleged a “hook up” application was defectively designed by allowing impersonating profiles); Gonzalez v. Google, Inc., 335 F. Supp. 3d 1156 (N.D. Cal. 2018); aff’d, 2 F.4th 871 (9th Cir. 2021).
 Grindr, 765 Fed. Appx. at 588.
 Lemmon v. Snap, Inc., No. CV 19-4504-MWF, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83399 (C.D. Cal. 2022) (Reviewing the motion to dismiss after the Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded, finding that treating Snap as a product manufacturer will defeat a motion to dismiss).
 Id. at 17.
 Aleeza Furman, Attorneys Say Products Liability Is Emerging as a Key Tool in Fight to Hold Social Media Companies Accountable, ALM Law (July 14, 2022, 3:43 PM), https://www.law.com/legaltechnews/2022/07/14/attorneys-say-products-liability-is-emerging-as-a-key-tool-in-fight-to-hold-social-media-companies-accountable/.