Both parties should have put a repeal (or at least a revision) of section 230 of the Communications Decency Act into these bills. Both parties have expressed dissatisfaction with this law. Republicans certainly should have included this as a provision and condition of passing these bills. I find this very disappointing. This is “social infrastructure”. Section 230 has been one of the most damaging things to happen in this country. People firing-off comments- ranging from obnoxious, to defamatory, to vindictive, to hurtful- is all a result of Section 230. I truly believe that section 230 and social media are responsible for the riots across this country. Together they combine rage, lies, and the aggregation of like-minded people who rally to or behind a cause, reinforce each other, and coordinate. We can improve the world and the dialogue by repealing this law and forcing websites to check facts before allowing comments to be posted. By doing this, in addition to liability for publication, it achieves three other things at the same time:
i. It shows the public that the comments are being reviewed and edited, and this then creates “brand equity”- which means that if mean things are posted, that the company chose to allow it, and that this is their brand;
ii. it stops fake, harmful content from being disseminated; and
iii it creates a huge business cost to these platforms, which is a “de facto” way to make them much smaller and less monopolistic. People will choose which brands- that are now editing content, under law- reflect their values. It will create a more fragmented social media market- a good thing.
I implore anyone who reads this to send this to their party influencers and lawmakers. This is a bipartisan and nonpartisan issue. This law was passed when commercial use of the Internet was in its infancy. We did not have enough data or knowledge of its uses and effects. We have learned enough at this stage about the harm that can done. Fact-checking before publication is not an abridgement of free speech. Newspapers and magazine have had to do it for decades. Opinions can be published in-line with the First Amendment. Anyone’s opinions should be welcome. But by checking “facts”, it forces the websites, like newspapers and magazines, to check tone of their brand, to stop false information, and to slow down the publishing of impulsive comments and responses (a cooling-off period). Remember that people can publish their own websites and blogs to promote their own opinions (with fact-checking, per the law). This has nothing to do with the First Amendment and opinions or feelings. This is about “facts”. Also, remember that this applies to business and travel review websites, as well. They exist because of section 230. So, false information about people’s businesses (such as from competitors or from vindictive customers) would also have to cease. Repeal this law.