Google's $168 Billion in Ad Revenue at Risk in Supreme Court Case

The US Supreme Court is poised to hear a case that could spell danger for the internet’s most lucrative business: online advertising.

The case, Gonzalez v. Google, will be argued Tuesday and centers on whether internet companies are liable for the content their algorithms recommend to users. The tech industry says it’s protected by a legal shield contained in communications law known as Section 230.

Much of the discussion surrounding the case has focused on the costs to online companies if the court determines they are legally responsible for the hundreds of millions of comments, videos and other content posted by users every day. However, such a decision could also strike at the heart of the automated advertising upon which Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook and Alphabet Inc.’s Google rely for the bulk of their revenue.

In fact, the social media companies view the case as an existential threat.

“This case could adversely impact the entire advertising ecosystem,” said Marc Beckman, Chief Executive Officer of DMA United, an advertising firm that regularly uses Google and Facebook’s tools to serve targeted ads to potential customers around the world.