For many months now we have been debating the future of Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which established the legal framework for the internet as we now know it that provides immunity to social media companies such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram by labeling them as “distributors” of their content rather than “publishers”. And as each day goes by, we are treated to the increasing flaunting abuse of this privilege as these companies have taken this provision as a license to censor with impunity, in many cases filling a role as “state actors”–government’s use of this immunity clause to induce big tech firms to block certain contributors to their sites that they cannot constitutionally censor. In short, they want it both ways–the immunity of platform providers while acting with increasing boldness as publishers in advocating or censoring certain points of view.
This practice has become so blatant that it smacks of purely acting in concert with government in speech control, and there is no better example of it than Facebook’s abrupt reversal of its policy of censoring claims about the possible lab leak cause of Covid-19 precisely on the day that President Biden announced an investigation as to whether a Chinese lab was involved. How stupid do they think we are?
There are experts in Section 230 who suggest that a repeal of it should be avoided and that there are other ways to fix the problem, such as strictly enforcing the law and forcing the platforms to act in ways that make them entitled to the protection. Great idea, but will a Biden administration enforce it? Seems unlikely. I’ll leave the details to the attorneys, and organizations like the Heritage Foundation are into finding a solution, but enough is enough–these people are acting like publishers and should be classified as such. Either enforce it or Section 230 must go.