Proposed Changes for Section 230 Underway
Changes to Section 230 are likely, given the widespread attention social media commanded. The law, fully known as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996 protects online platforms from liability on what users say about them. One of the proponents for striking down the law is former President Donald Trump. In addition, President Biden also called for its revocation.
RELATED: Big Tech Firms Cut Ties With Parler
More than 20 Proposals
At present, there are more than 20 proposals to update the law from both Republicans and Democrats. Almost all say one thing: social-media companies should start assuming accountability for enabling cyberstalking, harassment, and discrimination within their platform.
While almost everybody is in agreement that the Section should remain, there is no consensus on what and how much change should happen. Many cautioned that any attempt to alter its language may lead to more unforeseen problems. In addition, do we really need to do it right now, when there are a lot more at stake?
Change, Not Remove Section 230
Meanwhile, heads of big tech companies such as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella welcomed any move to provide clarity to the law. Then, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey proposed a more “market-driven” approach in updating 230’s provisions. However, it remains unclear how to test an updated law. This process of even determining which is covered by free speech and which isn’t can take years to finalize.
In summary, Section 230 guarantees that companies are free from liability arising from user-generated content. As long as sites prove they aren’t knowingly helping commit crimes, they are in the clear. “Section 230 touches on everything from election integrity to online social-media bias,” noted Klon Kitchen, former director of the Center for Technology Policy at the Heritage Foundation. He added that trying to solve all the problems of the internet by changing this one law can lead to unintended consequences.
Problems with the Law
As noted in the name, the provision went into law in 1996. Back then, only 36 million people used the internet, with the majority coming from the US. Plus, the freedom from liability enabled the formation of Facebook and Google. It also helped spawn smaller competitors that grew big like TikTok and Parler. It also helped enable other businesses such as Airbnb.
Now, the internet has 4.8 billion users, which includes 90% of all Americans. This includes 72% that say that social media firms are too powerful and influential in politics. This ability to dictate what information users can consume and the protection Section 230 provides is what politicians worry about.
Damned If You Do…
Many Democrat lawmakers say that platforms often hide under Section 230. They see this as their shield while allowing users to issue comments or opinions that are close to being criminal. At the same time, many Republicans say that the same companies use Section 230 to enforce speech bans. How to expand or revise Section 230 is still up in the air.
“One of the reasons that haven’t happened is when legislators look at the implications of that, that juice isn’t worth the squeeze,” said Kitchen. Removing the law without an adequate, or even fuller, a replacement can spell trouble for big tech companies. Which can seriously affect the economy. Reverting to their pre-Section 230 laws means that sites and apps will become responsible for every word that appears on their site. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and others will need to stop moderating content, and open themselves for all kinds of vitriol. If they choose to moderate, they open themselves to lawsuits from user posts. A more likely outcome is narrowing the scope and volume of what’s allowed and not allowed on platforms.
Possible repercussions include a complicated filter before a platform allows users to share content. For search engines and businesses, this may mean an additional layer where someone vouches for every search result or business listing. While this may inconvenience existing big tech companies, the complexity can prevent the survival of startups.
Watch CNBC News where Senator Mark Warner says I think we’ll have strong bipartisan support for Section 230 reform:
Do you agree that Section 230 should change? Or, should the First Amendment take over the internet? Let us know what you think about Section 230 and its impact on personal responsibility. Share your thoughts and comments below.
I would rather there be stronger ENFORCEMENT and or punishments of actions that infringe on any of our constitutional rights. The ‘cancel culture needs to be reigned in.
Newspapers and news reporting need to site accurate and truthful sources.- not opinion unless defined as OPINION or EDITORIAL and then present BOTH SIDES EQUALLY. Modification of speeches, or public domain material, unverified reporting is unacceptable – example: Wikipedia rewrites of historical biography and history.
NO THIRD PARTY CENSORSHIP – CENSORSHIP should be limited to EXPLICIT SEXUAL CONTENT, BULLYING, SLANDEROUS, LIBAL, OR VIOLENT content and be controlled by the users on THEIR OWN SITE by selection. If a users determines that content needs to be deleted an EXISTING legal rule must be sited and the Censored content sent to POLICE for evaluation of legal infringement which could lead to prosecution if found to be in violation of EXISTING law.
At the very least parts of section 230 need to be visited and revised. What the tech giants did leading up to and through the election was treasonous to America. Also it’s a high probability other countrys were involved with big tech.
Big tech is acting like the judge, jury, and imprisonments of the people, this is against every part of the constitution that separates USA from the rest of the world. Letting them continue in this manner will destroy every freedom we have fought for centuries. And will send our country into another civil war, we’re not far from civil war anyway.
These platform need to allow ALL points of view. Any issues of defamation are on the individual poster not the platform. Only if free speech is protected can we remain a free society. The old statement: “I may not agree with what is said, but I defend to the death the right to say it.” And many a veteral was willing to give their life for such a defence.
Get rid of 230. If they try to modify the law it’s nothing but a feast for lawyers and will let the tech giant’s off of any responsibility and allow them to continue to run the nation.
Invariably our FREE SPEECH under the 1ST Amendmentis under attack.I agree that sexually explicit or anything under that area should be constantly reviewed to protect the public and under age people.
These companies Twitter,Facebook and Google have no right to be singled out for special perotection .They have no right to sensor FREE SPEECH ! If you do not like what you read then DON’T READ IT !
Personally I believe they should be broken up and allow for Fair and Free Competition !
Aloowing them to be free to regulate the general public goes way beyond their rights.AMERICA and WE THE PEOPLE regardless of our political ,promotional or any other area Have The Right to say what we want to. These companies specifically have ZERO RIGHT to deny or REGULATE our PLATFORMS ! If they do the should be sued and held accountable from the TOP DOWN Individually !
Revision of 230 is a bad option. 230 is an unconstitutional work around to sidestep the Constitution. 230 is by nature unconstitutional. It needs to be scrapped and the Constitution needs to be adhered to.
Three Google executives just quit Google jobs & are now working for the Biden Administration. IF anything is changed it will be minor. Big Tech is in cahoots with Joe. I say treat them as a utility or bust big tech up. We did it in the 80’s we can do it again.
Each Company (or portion thereof) should be required to make a one-time irrevocable decision to either be (i) a”Platform” for free discussion with no control over content posted by 3rd parties and no liability for same, or (ii) an editor with control over all content, including that posted by 3rd parties, but liability for their decisions.
biden would not be president if the media was not involved Trump would be President Free speech !
Big Thinks they run this country and they don’t, Even Congress Doesn’t run this country either, the Section 230 needs be ABOLISHED and 1st Amendments Rights ENFORCED on all Social Platforms or have their FCC License Revoked.
If the social media platform is closed where only members of that platform can view the material, they can candor and limit as they wish. If however the content is open to the public, readily available to a search, etc., it should fall under free speech protections of the 1st Amendment. There are also other underlying rules, adult content, etc. just my 2 cents.
Big tech needs to be held accountable like everyone else.
The biggest issue is definition. For example, news outlets should have a limit on the percentage of their content can be opinion verse actual news reporting. If 95% of content was current news, follow-up to past news, retractions and corrections to news reported, and 5% or less was opinion, the media would be protected by 230, otherwise they would be responsible for what ever they presented. There should be a requirement that news outlets report current and ongoing news. The President of the United States is news. Government statistics are news. Bills and regulations are news. Anything that affects the lives of Americans is news. If news media consistently fails to cover news that affects citizens, that media would no longer be protected by 230. Congressmen, particularly House Representatives, are becoming media stars. When major party member expresses an opinion, the media should provide equal time for an opposing view. That used to be strictly enforcement by the media to grant equal time when the major party person was featured. When the Speaker of the House or Majority Leader of the Senate addresses the nation, the media should provide equal time for a minority party representative. Both sides of an issue should be presented in equal parts to serve the American citizen with information they need. WE have allowed the news media to be focused on entertainment, clicks, or thumbs to we no longer have any trusted news. 230 is responsible, in a large part, for news outlets becoming opinion variety shows. It needs to be changed and restrictions to distinguish news verses opinion. We need truthful news, accurately reported.
Get rid of 203…
TO MUCH POWER FOR BIG TECH!
The reasons I say to keep it in tact (pretty much as is), because if you just give people the right to talk shit all the time. That means we will be going back decades, because people today are very childish and enjoy name calling and bullying. If given a free forum; it will turn into a free for all. The first amendment is a wonderful thing until folks start abusing it. If you want change in 230 you’re opening the door to allow the dems to try and throw another wrench in to the gears of democracy. The dems are not for democracy because they already are censuring what some individuals can say and when you can speak out if you don’t agree with them. Plus another proxy form of 230 is all the executive orders that have been signed 26 days. Damn, they must have had those on special down at the dollar store (10 for $1). They are being handed out left and right. Showing that no one has a say/vote on what truly needs to be done (besides one man’s personal agenda). People should be allowed to say what’s on their mind as long as IT IS NOT threatening the physical well being of another individual. Violence is not the solution to our nations’s problems. I seriously do believe in Unity, but when y’all keep griping about equality and folks being repressed; I guess I’m rather blind to that. Where I come from we have all been treated the same. Cause we all work hard for a living. Just trying to get by, raise our families and enjoy a good picnic/cookout with all around the area that wishes to come.