It’s no shock to those who are paying attention that leftist social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are censoring posts and comments. Unfortunately, this censorship focuses heavily on user-generated content that does not coincide with the established narrative. But if conservative lawmakers have their way, that may all be about to change.
You have probably heard the term “Section 230” batted around by political pundits on news shows. Still, few take the time to describe it in detail or how it can have such a significant effect on the behavior of companies that control social media apps and websites. A video from Learn Liberty takes a deep dive to uncover the history behind Section 230 and its possible future.
Section 230 is part of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 and states, in part, that “No provider or user of an interactive computer shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” This allows an online platform to host user-created content on their service without being considered the content’s legal owner or publisher. Since the online service provider is not deemed the owner or publisher of any user’s content, the online company will not be held libelous in most claims stemming from that content. This protection has given entrepreneurs the confidence to create various online businesses that rely heavily on user-created content.
But if Section 230 has helped create businesses, why is there such a push to repeal Section 230?
Jennifer Huddleston, the Director of Technology and Innovation Policy at the American Action Forum, points out that Section 230 is also the part of the act that allows online platforms to moderate user-created content by deciding what to delete and what is allowed to remain. For many people, it is this part of Section 230 that is so troubling.
The conservative argument against Section 230 is that some online service providers are taking advantage of it by censoring any content posted by a user that is favorable to conservatives or critical of progressives. Of course, there are many examples of this taking place, but it is important to note that Section 230 does not take sides when it comes to politics. There is nothing inherently supportive of the left within the act. The liberals are not too fond of Section 230 either. But instead of pointing out biased censorship, they believe that the section doesn’t go far enough to prevent so-called harmful or misleading online content.
At the end of the day, one of the most fundamental and beloved freedoms in the U.S. is the right to speak freely. Any concrete attempt to bypass this freedom needs addressing immediately.
Take a deep dive into Section 230 below: