Group of online heavyweights bands together to defend Section 230

Posted:
in General Discussion
A group of internet-based companies outside of the historical champions of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act have formed a coalition to defend the controversial law.

A new group of influential internet companies wants to defend Section 230 from threats in Washington
A new group of influential internet companies wants to defend Section 230 from threats in Washington


The group, called Internet Works, includes industry heavyweights eBay, Reddit, Snap, GoDaddy, Pinterest, Dropbox, Etsy, and Wikimedia Foundation. The coalition plans to lobby Congress on the importance of Section 230 protections, the need for a unified and comprehensive approach towards reform, and the dangers of making "blunt changes to the law."

"Internet Works members rely on CDA 230 to make their platforms safe for users and support free expression," the group said in a statement. "This coalition brings new voices and diverse perspectives to Washington's current Section 230 debate, which too often focuses on the largest internet platforms."

Section 230, which is part of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, provides immunity for website publishers from third-party content. The law shields companies like Facebook and Twitter, ranging all the way down to the smallest blogs from liability for what users of those platforms say in comment sections, or similar venues for user expression hosted by the website.

Without the Section 230 protections, third parties could sue a website for something a user writes in the comments section that escapes moderation, or is seen before the comment is moderated. Additionally, users could also sue social media companies like Twitter and Facebook for content users post.

The members include:
  • Automattic

  • Cloudflare

  • Dropbox

  • eBay

  • Etsy

  • Glassdoor

  • GoDaddy

  • Medium

  • Nextdoor

  • Patreon

  • Pinterest

  • Reddit

  • Snap Inc.

  • TripAdvisor

  • Vimeo

  • Wikimedia Foundation
President Donald Trump has expressed a desire to repeal the article, suggesting it allows companies to censor conservative opinions. In May, after Twitter had flagged the President's tweets with fact checks, he issued an executive order attempting to limit Section 230's legal protections.

During the past week, Trump threatened not to sign the funding and COVID-19 relief bill that includes $600 stimulus checks for Americans, demanding that Congress also repeal Section 230, add $2,000 stimulus checks, and establish an election fraud commission. He eventually signed the bill into law.

President-Elect Joe Biden has also said he wants to revoke article 230. He has historically stated that Facebook and other online giants should be held accountable for spreading misinformation.

On Monday, the House passed a separate bill supporting $2,000 checks, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to bring it to the floor for a vote. Instead, he floated a separate bill that would group the higher amount together with Trump's other demands, including the Section 230 repeal. That combination would serve as a "poison pill" for Democrats and will almost certainly fail to pass.

The Internet Works coalition doesn't include online titans Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon, or Microsoft. Another group, The Internet Association, which consists of all of those Silicon Valley titans and others, has previously spoken out against attempts to roll back Section 230 protections. Apple isn't part of either group and has not yet publicly commented on Section 230.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 28
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    I don’t think 230 should be repealed, nor do I think these social media giants should be able to censor any opinions conservative or progressive, capitalistic or communistic. Let people educate themselves and decide for themselves.

    Ironically enough we had to listen to communists, oops I mean progressives, for years tell us everyone has their own personal truth, or some other rubbish like that. Now they want to take that away.
    edited December 2020 jeffythequickcornchipanantksundaram
  • Reply 2 of 28
    Beware the law of unexpected consequences. When Reagan eliminated the Fairness Doctrine (in place since the beginning of radio) he set the stage not only for Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, but for the News as a profit center—which is why we have the daily murder, rape, and arson shows without the benefit of Walter Cronkite. 

    My concern about repealing 230 is that it unites Trump and Biden. My concern about keeping it is that it unites the internet billionaires. (And somehow Wikipedia). 

    I think the internet is too important to leave to our utterly corrupt government. Or the business sector. Of religion. Is there ANY honest organization that can oversee the net?
    djames4242watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 28
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,262member
    tyler82 said:
    Does Trump realize he and his followers would be immediately banned from Twitter if this were enacted? Nah, this is the same guy who said to inject bleach to cure Covid (the "hoax"). Not too bright. The day he is escorted out of the White House can't come fast enough.
    I was surprised to see Biden ask for the same thing months ago..  Although I think he more wants to take exemptions away from certain entities like FB, rather than repeal the whole law at this point in time.

    “The idea that it’s a tech company is that Section 230 should be revoked, immediately should be revoked, number one. For Zuckerberg and other platforms,” Biden said. “It should be revoked because it is not merely an internet company. It is propagating falsehoods they know to be false.”


    Section 230 hangs in the balance after attacks from Biden and Trump







    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 28
    zimmiezimmie Posts: 598member
    The wild part is eliminating Section 230 would ultimately just consolidate power into the hands of already-rich media companies. All the conclusions you can reach via Section 230 can also be reached via the First Amendment, but it will take vastly more money and time to get there. Small sites like this one would have to shut down anything which accepts arbitrary input from users, while sites like Facebook could keep operating while they spend years and millions of dollars on the court case. Then after all that, Facebook would win (after all, they're not a government, so they have freedom of speech, and choosing what you want to publish and what you want to remove is speech), and the smaller sites would have been crushed, so Facebook wins again!
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 28
    zimmie said:
    The wild part is eliminating Section 230 would ultimately just consolidate power into the hands of already-rich media companies. All the conclusions you can reach via Section 230 can also be reached via the First Amendment, but it will take vastly more money and time to get there. Small sites like this one would have to shut down anything which accepts arbitrary input from users, while sites like Facebook could keep operating while they spend years and millions of dollars on the court case. Then after all that, Facebook would win (after all, they're not a government, so they have freedom of speech, and choosing what you want to publish and what you want to remove is speech), and the smaller sites would have been crushed, so Facebook wins again!
    It is a conundrum, and I can see both sides of the case.  A few things that could have happened, but didn't:
    President Trump could have just started using Parler rather than Twitter.  It would probably crush Parler's servers, but getting 73M users on their platform would probably help their bottom line.  It's nice that Parler doesn't care what you put on there, and puts the onus of finding the truth on the reader, rather than an algorithm.
    MeWe can take off, and make Facebook the MySpace of the 2010's.
    People that don't like the "Big Guys in Social Media" can make their own platform, and make it better than the existing ones, and people will generally start going to them, then there's a tipping point, and then the masses will join.  (Again with the MySpace thing).

    Jack Dorsey, Zuckerberg, et al don't have to care about Section 230.  They weren't around 10 years ago, and they can go away, and if there's something better, people won't care.  Their platform is made of nothing except the imagination of those that contribute to it.
    SpamSandwichwatto_cobradewme
  • Reply 6 of 28
    normmnormm Posts: 653member
    Obviously Trump and Biden don't agree here.  I had assumed Trump was using the threat of repeal as  a club to get social media to behave more the way he wants.  To actually repeal would mean they would become responsible for any incitement to violence or incorrect statement that Trump might make, which would presumably require them to not publish his remarks at all.  Repealing 230 would not remove censorship, it would require censorship.
    watto_cobraGeorgeBMacgatorguydewme
  • Reply 7 of 28
    normm said:
    Obviously Trump and Biden don't agree here.  I had assumed Trump was using the threat of repeal as  a club to get social media to behave more the way he wants.  To actually repeal would mean they would become responsible for any incitement to violence or incorrect statement that Trump might make, which would presumably require them to not publish his remarks at all.  Repealing 230 would not remove censorship, it would require censorship.
    You’ve completely misunderstood the issue.
    anantksundaram
  • Reply 8 of 28
    brassens said:

    Is there ANY honest organization that can oversee the net?
    No. 

    The internet is, by and large, fine the way it is. If you have problem with it, read books. 
    watto_cobraSpamSandwichgilly33
  • Reply 9 of 28
    I don’t have a problem with the internet. It is the internet users. Just like I don’t have a problem with guns. Just the users. But since we can’t control users...
    watto_cobraGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 10 of 28
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    normm said:
    Obviously Trump and Biden don't agree here.  I had assumed Trump was using the threat of repeal as  a club to get social media to behave more the way he wants.  To actually repeal would mean they would become responsible for any incitement to violence or incorrect statement that Trump might make, which would presumably require them to not publish his remarks at all.  Repealing 230 would not remove censorship, it would require censorship.
    You’ve completely misunderstood the issue.

    No, he understood it well.
    Trump has come to believe that all will cave to his smear tactics & legal threats -- and getting his message out is vitally important to him.
    But, normm is correct:  that could backfire on him if those platforms could be held responsible for the content on them.  They could be more likely to label his nonsense as nonsense to prevent legal liability.

    The only one who actually has it right is Pat Toomey who said that you should not lift that rule without carefully studying the issue and anticipating the unanticipated consequences.
    gilly33dewme
  • Reply 11 of 28
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    brassens said:

    Is there ANY honest organization that can oversee the net?
    No. 

    The internet is, by and large, fine the way it is. If you have problem with it, read books. 

    ISIS agrees.
  • Reply 12 of 28
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,262member
    normm said:
    Obviously Trump and Biden don't agree here.  I had assumed Trump was using the threat of repeal as  a club to get social media to behave more the way he wants.  To actually repeal would mean they would become responsible for any incitement to violence or incorrect statement that Trump might make, which would presumably require them to not publish his remarks at all.  Repealing 230 would not remove censorship, it would require censorship.
    You’ve completely misunderstood the issue.

    No, he understood it well.
    Trump has come to believe that all will cave to his smear tactics & legal threats -- and getting his message out is vitally important to him.
    But, normm is correct:  that could backfire on him if those platforms could be held responsible for the content on them.  They could be more likely to label his nonsense as nonsense to prevent legal liability.

    The only one who actually has it right is Pat Toomey who said that you should not lift that rule without carefully studying the issue and anticipating the unanticipated consequences.
    So my links where Biden asking for it's repeal naming FB specifically mean it's all Trump?  I provided a direct quote form Biden below.

    “The idea that it’s a tech company is that Section 230 should be revoked, immediately should be revoked, number one. For Zuckerberg and other platforms,” Biden said. “It should be revoked because it is not merely an internet company. It is propagating falsehoods they know to be false.”


    Section 230 hangs in the balance after attacks from Biden and Trump

    https://www.techrepublic.com/article/section-230-hangs-in-the-balance-after-attacks-from-biden-and-trump/


  • Reply 13 of 28
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,262member
    brassens said:

    Is there ANY honest organization that can oversee the net?
    No. 

    The internet is, by and large, fine the way it is. If you have problem with it, read books. 

    ISIS agrees.
    So ISIS or any cult's way of recruiting is solely through the internet?   How did these things exist prior to the internet or Facebook? I agree the internet is pretty much ok the way it is. If people are going to buy into propaganda, extremism or violent rhetoric they are going to with or without the internet.

    gilly33muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 14 of 28
    I'm not in favor of protecting lies as Free Speech. This includes things that are now called "Deep Fakes". 

    But the question of enforcement is what Section 230 is about. Assuming we (being us technically savvy folks) can detect things like "Deep Fakes" and lying (stuff like 5G is the cause of Covid, or Covid is a hoax, ...) notification of such things should be allocated to the tech companies, but prosecution (civil or criminal) needs to be a responsibility of governmental actions. 

    If we can ever get government to actually work (I'm not hopeful, since lying is endemic to the leadership class), this is way to go, and not suing each of the pseudo-governmental corporations. 
    razorpit
  • Reply 15 of 28
    brassens said:

    Is there ANY honest organization that can oversee the net?
    No. 

    The internet is, by and large, fine the way it is. If you have problem with it, read books. 
    Well said. 
  • Reply 16 of 28
    jcs2305 said:
    brassens said:

    Is there ANY honest organization that can oversee the net?
    No. 

    The internet is, by and large, fine the way it is. If you have problem with it, read books. 

    ISIS agrees.
    So ISIS or any cult's way of recruiting is solely through the internet?   How did these things exist prior to the internet or Facebook? I agree the internet is pretty much ok the way it is. If people are going to buy into propaganda, extremism or violent rhetoric they are going to with or without the internet.

    I agree. All this shit exited in one form or the other before the internet. Dumb ass people and groups will use whatever media electronic or otherwise they can get there hands on. 
    razorpit
  • Reply 17 of 28
    No company should be held responsible for what users do with their product. Why should internet companies be any different? Can a phone company be held liable for callers using their service for terror plots? Or vehicle manufacturers when their vehicle is used to plow into a crowd of people? Or gun manufacturers being held liable for murders committed with their guns? Or course not and it should be the same for rules for all companies.
    razorpit
  • Reply 18 of 28
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    jcs2305 said:
    brassens said:

    Is there ANY honest organization that can oversee the net?
    No. 

    The internet is, by and large, fine the way it is. If you have problem with it, read books. 

    ISIS agrees.
    So ISIS or any cult's way of recruiting is solely through the internet?   How did these things exist prior to the internet or Facebook? I agree the internet is pretty much ok the way it is. If people are going to buy into propaganda, extremism or violent rhetoric they are going to with or without the internet.


    Yeh, the internet was the primary of ISIS recruitment.   They had a sophisticated section devoted to it and it was obviously effective -- they recruited people from all over the world to their cause.

    Russia used it effectively in the U.S. 2016 election to spread disinformation as did the Republican party itself -- using Cambridge Analytica to precisely target their propaganda.

    And, today it has become a main tool of the far right and other extremists in the U.S. to spread their propaganda.  It is the main culprit behind the polarized, near civil war split going on in the U.S. today.  Ask any extremist where they get their information and, even if they admit to it, it is unlikely to be NBC.

    That is not to say the internet per se is bad.   It can and it does do a lot of good.   But it has also become an effective tool for extremists to propagate their ideology and propaganda.
  • Reply 19 of 28
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    gilly33 said:
    jcs2305 said:
    brassens said:

    Is there ANY honest organization that can oversee the net?
    No. 

    The internet is, by and large, fine the way it is. If you have problem with it, read books. 

    ISIS agrees.
    So ISIS or any cult's way of recruiting is solely through the internet?   How did these things exist prior to the internet or Facebook? I agree the internet is pretty much ok the way it is. If people are going to buy into propaganda, extremism or violent rhetoric they are going to with or without the internet.

    I agree. All this shit exited in one form or the other before the internet. Dumb ass people and groups will use whatever media electronic or otherwise they can get there hands on. 

    Yes, "this shit" as you call it did exist before the internet -- just as roads existed before automobiles.   Now we have high speed interstate highways. 
    The internet provided a megaphone for "the shit" and amplified to be, in many ways, louder than any conventional information source.

    Few extremists get their information from NBC nightly news.
  • Reply 20 of 28
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    Spudster said:
    No company should be held responsible for what users do with their product. Why should internet companies be any different? Can a phone company be held liable for callers using their service for terror plots? Or vehicle manufacturers when their vehicle is used to plow into a crowd of people? Or gun manufacturers being held liable for murders committed with their guns? Or course not and it should be the same for rules for all companies.

    That is a legitimate argument.  But,..

    When people and organizations use a platform to spread disinformation that harms people and society (say hate speech) then it becomes a systemic problem.  Since there is no effective way to stop those spreading the disinformation (particularly if they are from another nation) then the onus falls on the platform itself to police how it is being used.   If they cannot do an effective job (which their obviously have not) then it is time for government to step in.
Sign In or Register to comment.