Big Tech likely to lose legal protection because of its editing of content
President Donald Trump called for the termination of Section 230 protection for internet companies as an upstart social media CEO has urged a more nuanced approach.
“For purposes of National Security, Section 230 must be immediately terminated!!!” Trump posted on Twitter late Thursday.
Earlier this month, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) clashed with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey over his company’s use of “warnings” on tweets related to the election.
After admitting he is not an expert on voter fraud, Dorsey said Twitter is labeling posts “so that people have more information.”
“No you’re not. You put up a page saying, quote, ‘voter fraud of any kind is exceedingly rare in the United States’. That’s not linking to a broader conversation, that’s taking a disputed policy position, and you’re a publisher when you’re doing that,” Cruz said. “You’re entitled to take a policy position, but you don’t get to pretend you’re not a publisher and get a special benefit under Section 230 as a result.”
In October, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai said the agency would “clarify ambiguities” in a provision that grants immunity to tech companies that act as “platforms.” Many conservatives have argued Facebook, Twitter, Google, and others have acted more like “publishers” when they censor content.
“The beauty of Section 230 is that it protects neutral actors from liability,” Parler CEO John Matze told The Kyle Olson Show last month, confessing he is not a lawyer, but an engineer.
“As the founder (of Parler), I like Section 230, especially for us, because we are a neutral town square. We don’t weigh in on the content of the user,” he said, adding users “define their own experience.”
“The problem with Section 230 is that Facebook and Twitter are already in violation of Section 230 because they’re not neutral actors, they’re acting as publishers,” Matze said.
“You don’t really need to repeal something that’s just being ignored,” he said, noting if those companies were following it, “they wouldn’t be creating rules to kind of kick out one ideological group.”
It will be interesting to see if Biden will do anything about these abuses by Big Tech. He was usually the beneficiary of the abuses so he will have less incentive to protect freedom of speech on these forums.