Neither Trump nor Biden are fans of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, albeit for very different reasons. The former because his twits are labeled as false, and his sycophants keep being tossed off social media for being too violent, crazy or absurdly false. The latter because platforms aren’t censoring enough hate speech and allowing white men to disagree with women of color.
But Trump upped the ante by announcing that he will veto the defense spending bill necessary to fund the military unless it includes the repeal of Section 230.
President Trump tweeted late Tuesday that he will veto the National Defense Authorization Act unless Congress repeals Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which critics say unfairly shields social media platforms from liability over items posted on their platforms.
These opponents have been vocal that tech behemoths like Twitter and Facebook should no longer be shielded as a neutral platform when they operate more like a publisher.
Or, as the president said using his official mode of communication:
Section 230, which is a liability shielding gift from the U.S. to “Big Tech” (the only companies in America that have it – corporate welfare!), is a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity. Our Country can never be safe & secure if we allow it to stand…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2020
This, of course, is factual nonsense, not that facts play any role in either the president’s decision-making or claims. Section 230 existed before any of the “Big Tech” platforms and provided the internet with the ability for platforms to exist. There is no publisher/platform distinction in the law; the point of Section 230 is to enable commentary and moderation without liability, as there would be no possibility of social media or comments here without it.
Without Section 230, my options here would be to post all comments, unmoderated and without limitation, or allow no comments. My posts are entirely my responsibility, for which I am liable should anyone take issue. But your comments?
Much as I love your comments, I am not inclined to be sued because of them. If someone takes issue with a comment calling someone a mean name, I do not wish to be sued, and compelled to defend, for defamation, infliction of emotional distress or having the wrong fringes on the flag.
If i were to allow every commenter to say whatever was on his or her mind, it would range from the basic crazy to the most racist rants imaginable. You have no idea what I see and trash, and that’s from Barleycorn alone. The daytrippers from the most radical and hateful fringes who occasionally show up here will make you hate Darwin for being so very wrong.
What’s at stake here isn’t just whether your fav political nutjob gets his rants posted on twitter, but whether blogs like SJ will be at the tender mercies of the criminally insane as well. Without Section 230, there will be no comments here. It’s not that I don’t love you and relish your brilliant insight, but there’s no way I’m going to spend the rest of my days in court defending against lawsuits by folks wearing tinfoil hats. That’s what we’re looking at here.