Tuesday, December 29, 2020

"Section 230, Explained": why you need it to be able to post your own content online for the rest of the world to see


Facebook, 2018

Section 230, Explained” by Jennifer Huddleston, of the American Action Forum.

The eight-minute documentary contrasts the reasons why both Trump and Biden want to get rid of Section 230 (of the 1996 Telecommunications Decency Act, with its “26 Words that Created the Internet”. That parallels the differences between conservatives (who see Big Tech censoring their speech, currently about the 2020 election) and liberals (who want do control hate speech and radicalization, which has become a real problem since Charlottesville).

Huddleston make a real point that a platform (or web host, which has a very different paradigm from a social media company) does not “own” your content.  Imagine what would happen if it did.

She does not get into detail as to what would happen if Section 230 were abolished altogether, but for that go to Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Elliot Harmon and his Oct 2020 NYTimes op-ed.  Many people would eventually be stopped from having their own personal presence online at all.

There is a good question as to whether earlier court rulings from the 1990s would provide some downstream immunity protection, or whether a common carrier law for hosts would be a good idea as a partial replacement.

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