The issue in question was whether or not Snapchat had a duty to restrict or eliminate access to the speed filter. Many highway safety advocates argue the filter distracts the driver and encourages unsafe driving habits through excessive speeding. Katie Basset, an author at Safer America, states, “I think the speed filter was just another alluring feature that a lot of people liked. So I think that it’s appealing for a user to have, but appealing in every wrong way…” When you can view postings of screenshots showing speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour, it’s not hard to see how this filter is abused. At these high speeds, the trauma of the initial collision and subsequent impacts can be devastating and life altering or even ending. As Snapchat already knew of multiple accidents involving people using the speed filter, does that make Snapchat liable for subsequent accidents if it did not change anything about the speed filter?
The Legal Ruling
Judge Thatcher of Spalding County dismissed the claims against Snapchat as he believes the tech company is immune from the claim under the Communication Decency Act of 1996. The law specifically states that, “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 plain English, Snapchat shall not be treated as the person creating the content, i.e. the results of the Speed Filter. While Snapchat has created the platform, they may not be on the hook for damage caused by a driver abusing the filter. While warnings are there to dissuade drivers from abusing the filter and risking their lives in the process, those injured by the reckless drivers are often left with their lives in shambles by life altering afflictions.