Following is an edited version of my recent Facebook post:
President Trump has joined Joe Biden in a disastrous call for repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. “For purposes of National Security, section 230 must be immediately terminated,” Trump tweeted. This echo’s Biden’s call for Section 230 repeal.
Section 230 shields social media companies (Facebook, Google, Twitter, et al) from lawsuits over content published by users on their platforms. Why is 230 good and necessary? Because the media companies only provide the platform, not the content. Only the users, not the platforms, are liable for what they publish.
Social media is the greatest advance for average people to freely express themselves in 1000 years. Making media companies liable for what we users write would force them to scrutinize every word that we users publish, including what I’m writing here, what I write on my blog, and what we debate in comments and replies. It would decimate the unfettered freedom the social media platforms give us to express ourselves. It would also be immoral to the media platforms. Making media companies liable for their users would be like making road owners liable for bad drivers or restaurants liable for crimes planned at dinner by their customers.
The political class and the traditional “Big Media” hate that their quasi-monopoly on news and opinion has been broken. They’d like nothing better than to re-shackle “we the people” again by turning social media into gatekeepers of news and opinion like newspapers and TV/radio news programs used to be. True, social media may at times abuse their Community Standards functions by mistakenly or unfairly screening out some users’ postings. But that should be addressed by privately complaining to them (which I have done, successfully) by publicly calling them out for their errors or bias, not killing this great tool of the average person’s newfound power to be heard.
(although they an reasonably impose standards).
Amid Election Disputes Trump Picks Fight With… Internet Regulations?
In an odd twist, President Trump has segued his ongoing fight against the election results into a renewed push to repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
For the record, Section 230 does not have anything to do with national security. The liability shield ensures that users, not platforms, are legally responsible for their own speech. It is the necessary precursor for free-flowing social media platforms to exist.
As we’ve explained at FEE, repealing Section 230 would cause more censorship, not less, as all of a sudden companies would be potentially liable for every post and have to be much more censorious about what they allow on their platforms.For the record, Section 230 does not have anything to do with national security. The liability shield ensures that users, not platforms, are legally responsible for their own speech. It is the necessary precursor for free-flowing social media platforms to exist.
As we’ve explained at FEE, repealing Section 230 would cause more censorship, not less, as all of a sudden companies would be potentially liable for every post and have to be much more censorious about what they allow on their platforms.
Politicians Want to Destroy Section 230, the Internet's First Amendment: Four myths about the law that made the modern internet possible. -- ELIZABETH NOLAN BROWN AND PAUL DETRICK for Reason
The End of the Free Internet Is Near: The idea that the internet should enjoy minimal government oversight precisely because it was a technology that enabled open and free speech for everyone has been turned on its head. -- DECLAN MCCULLAGH for Reason
Social Media Are Victims, Not Villains, in Russian Scandal by Steve Simpson for New Ideal
The second point lumped into the critics’ claims seeks to blame social media companies for doing something good—namely, for creating new communications platforms that the Russians could misuse. This is rather like attacking car companies because they created a way for criminals to escape from crime scenes.
Social media companies are innovative, productive businesses run by smart, talented people. Instead of blaming them for what the Russians did, we might consider thanking them for having created something great.
You want censorship? This is how you get censorship. -- Robby Soave for Reason
Social Media and the Future of Civil Society -- Jon Hersey for The Objective Standard
Many of the bureaucrats and commentators behind these laws and initiatives against social-media companies share essentially the same tactic. They blame social-media companies for not doing what governments are supposed to do—protect individual rights—and then rationalize that this supposed failure is grounds for doing what governments are not supposed to do—violate individual rights.