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Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Triumphs in Appeals Court Against YouTube Over Bitcoin Scam Videos

In a significant legal victory, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has advanced in his legal challenge against YouTube following an appeals court decision that overturned a previous ruling.

This dispute stems from incidents in 2020, where doctored videos of Wozniak were used in a Bitcoin scam on YouTube.

The appellate court in San Jose has determined that YouTube’s defense, rooted in a controversial communications law, is insufficient for absolving the platform of liability related to the fraudulent use of Wozniak’s image.

This pivotal judgment stems from a larger lawsuit initiated by Wozniak and 17 other high-profile figures, including tech magnates Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Michael Dell, against YouTube and its parent entity, Google.

They argued that YouTube failed to adequately police its platform against misleading videos that promised Bitcoin rewards in exchange for payments, misleading viewers with manipulated content featuring trusted industry leaders.

The scam videos were sophisticated in their deception, incorporating additional text and imagery to entice viewers into sending Bitcoin with the false promise of receiving double the amount in return.

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This case’s progression is particularly noteworthy because it challenges the protective boundaries of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which has historically shielded platforms like YouTube from liabilities associated with user-posted content.

A crucial element of the appellate court’s decision was its focus on YouTube’s practice of issuing verification badges.

The court found that YouTube and Google had “materially contributed” to the scam’s proliferation by verifying and failing to de-verify channels that were hijacked to promote the scam.

This action, or lack thereof, played a significant role in the court’s finding that Section 230 protections might not apply when a platform contributes to the perpetration of a scam.

Wozniak’s attorney, Joe Cotchett, hailed the decision as a critical moment for holding social media giants accountable.

He emphasized that the verdict sends a clear message that platforms like “Google and YouTube take responsibility for their actions and cannot use Section 230 as a total shield for their conduct.”

This case not only marks a victory for Wozniak but also signals potential shifts in how legal protections for online platforms are interpreted and applied in the context of digital fraud and content management.

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Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

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