Section 230

It is time to modernize Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 and take away Big Tech’s ‘sweetheart deal’ that shields internet platforms from having to take responsibility for online horrors.

  • Section 230 was a well-intentioned piece of legislation back in 1996 was designed to allow free speech to flourish on the internet. It was intended to protect small and scrappy internet start-ups from being wiped out by defamation suits for content posted by users online. However, Section 230 did two things to protect the internet: First, it shielded websites from liability and responsibility for content posted by others; Second, it gave websites vast leeway to police the content on the site.
  • The big idea underpinning Section 230 was that the internet would be a thriving marketplace: competition online would be fierce because entry barriers for new websites were very low. Of course, today’s internet is nothing like the internet lawmakers envisaged back in 1996.  
  • Now, instead of robust competition and scrappy start-ups, for many people Google, Facebook, and Amazon are not just websites, they are the internet hiding behind Section 230.
  • Activist judges and their Silicon Valley allies have reinterpreted Section 230 in ways that have stifled conservative voices, while also giving leeway to disclaim responsibility for: (1) disinformation and misinformation online such as revenge porn, illegal drug advertising, and terrorist content and (2) censoring conservative voices online through the misapplication of Section 230’s power to police content.
  • Without meaningful competition, Big tech platforms have been free to police platforms according to their own political bias. Acting unilaterally when it comes to consumers, including conservatives. Due to the strong network effects of social media platforms like Facebook even conservatives have to go to the platform to find other conservatives.
  • One way to deal with the issue is antitrust. Another way to tackle Big Tech’s unfettered power is to repeal or modernize Section 230 to make sure that these platforms start to take responsibility for their actions.
  • Senator Josh Hawley recently introduced legislation to do just that: he wants the Federal Trade Commission to be the ‘cop on the beat’ and ensure that Big Tech is accepting its responsibility to be fair to the rest of society. Unfortunately, Big Tech’s censorship of conservative voices has proven that that it no longer deserves unfettered discretion to censor content unsupervised.
  • Senators Roger Wicker, Lindsey Graham, Marsha Blackburn introduced Bill to Modify Section 230 and Empower Consumers Online. The legislation would clarify the original intent of the law and increase accountability for content moderation practices.
  • Sen. Mike Lee introduced the Promoting Responsibility Over Moderation In the Social Media Environment (PROMISE) Act. a bill designed to hold Big Tech companies accountable for their promises to not operate their social medial platforms with political bias. 
  • Sen. Ted Cruz’s proposals to crack down Big Tech is Silicon Valley’s worst nightmares. Overhaul Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — a law that grants online platforms legal immunity for content posted on their sites. Take antitrust action against the tech giants. Charge the companies with fraud. 
  • It is important to remember that many conservatives have been bought off by Big Tech over the years and they may be speaking with their pocketbooks and not on principle.
  • As conservatives, we don’t want to see any economic activity over regulated but Big Tech is entirely unregulated and this has created a Wild West in which tech companies hold sway over our democracy. It is important as conservatives to protect against Big Tech’s unfettered political power since these companies have made no secret of their disdain for the conservative movement and the Republican Party.

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