Section 230 Must Go

Missouri’s Josh Hawley is proving to be a lot less horrible than I feared. For instance, he’s proposing to repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that grants tech platforms the protections that publishers don’t have. Hawley argues that Facebook, Twitter and Co are not neutral discussion platforms that offer a “forum for a true diversity of political discourse.”

The measure he’s proposing doesn’t go nearly far enough for my liking but it’s better than nothing.

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17 thoughts on “Section 230 Must Go”

  1. There’s no way this survives constitutional scrutiny (if it actually becomes law, which seems unlikely). The First Amendment pretty clearly says that Congress can’t create a law that (1) forces a company to get approval for its moderation practices and (2) judges content on whether or not it’s deemed “politically neutral.” Also, what the hell does “politically neutral” even mean? It doesn’t mean anything. And, as for “clear and convincing evidence,” tons of people have pointed to clear and convincing evidence that these platforms don’t moderate based on political viewpoints, and yet we still have tons of people insisting they do. Nothing is going to convince some people that the platforms are actively targeting conservatives, no matter how many times evidence to the contrary is presented. Hawley has set up a purposefully impossible standard. As we’ve pointed out, many people still insist that Twitter deciding to kick off literal Nazis is “evidence” of anti-conservative bias. As NetChoice points out, Hawley’s bill would require sites to host KKK propaganda just in order to obtain basic liability protections.

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20190618/18023542427/senator-hawley-proposes-law-to-force-internet-companies-to-beg-ftc-permission-to-host-content.shtml

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    1. Conservatives-schmanservatives, it’s the censorship of me that I’m worried about. I’m worried for myself, and we should all worry for ourselves because censorship hurts everybody, not just the baddies.

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    2. “many people still insist that Twitter deciding to kick off literal Nazis”

      Which “literal Nazis” would those be?

      Social media are either neutral platforms with no responsibility for (legal) content they host or pick and choose publishers who are then legally responsible for what shows up among their published output.

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      1. Section 230.

        In analyzing the availability of the immunity offered by this provision, courts generally apply a three-prong test. A defendant must satisfy each of the three prongs to gain the benefit of the immunity:

        The defendant must be a “provider or user” of an “interactive computer service.”
        The cause of action asserted by the plaintiff must treat the defendant as the “publisher or speaker” of the harmful information at issue.
        The information must be “provided by another information content provider,” i.e., the defendant must not be the “information content provider” of the harmful information at issue.

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_230_of_the_Communications_Decency_Act

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        1. Instead of copy-pasting Wikipedia, think about what harm will come to you if people gain a right to sue Facebook for defamation. How is it a bad thing for you?

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      1. I went to school at Washington University in the late 70s. I volunteered at Barnes Hospital in the ER, and once rode in the back of an ambulance with a guy being taken to City Hospital. You’ve no idea.

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