DOJ recommendations to alter section 230 — protecting free speech

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Journalists have gotten lazy over the years. Instead of addressing controversial material, like the China Hunter story, they are trying to censor it. Twitter was way over the top, blocking the Trump campaign’s account, the press secretary’s account, and so on. Facebook at least said they were working on addressing the accusations first. They stirred up a lot of trouble for themselves.

People are now more aware that the social media outfits are over-protected by Section 230 given the fact that they are monopolies.

DOJ GETS INVOLVED

The Department of Justice has recommendations for altering — modernizing — section 230, the section that allows the monopolies on social media to silence opposition.

TIME TO MODERNIZE

The DOJ plans to address the “unclear and inconsistent moderation practices” that limit speech and the proliferation of harmful content that leaves victims without civil recourse.

They acknowledge that Section 230 leaves online platforms immune from a lot of illicit activities. And it leaves them free to “moderate content with little transparency and accountability.”

Section 230 provides immunity to online platforms from civil liability based on third-party content as well as immunity for removal of content in certain circumstances.

The time is ripe for modernization, they explain, and they sought a middle ground on Section 230. The statue is from 1996. Currently, just a few platforms have all the power.

AREAS FOR REFORM

The Department identified four areas ripe for reform include not immunizing platforms that facilitate or solicits third-party content.

Section 230 does NOT apply to civil enforcement actions.

They recommend a clarification of federal antitrust claims not covered by Section 230 immunity.

Most interesting currently is the promotion of open discourse and greater transparency. They recommend the clarification of the text and original purpose of the statute to
promote free and open discourse online and encourage greater transparency between platforms and users.

Including:

Replace Vague Terminology in (c)(2).  First, the Department supports replacing the vague catch-all “otherwise objectionable” language in Section 230(c)(2) with “unlawful” and “promotes terrorism.”  This reform would focus the broad blanket immunity for content moderation decisions on the core objective of Section 230—to reduce online content harmful to children—while limiting a platform’s ability to remove content arbitrarily or in ways inconsistent with its terms or service simply by deeming it “objectionable.”

Provide Definition of Good Faith.  Second, the Department proposes adding a statutory definition of “good faith,” which would limit immunity for content moderation decisions to those done in accordance with plain and particular terms of service and accompanied by a reasonable explanation, unless such notice would impede law enforcement or risk imminent harm to others.  Clarifying the meaning of “good faith” should encourage platforms to be more transparent and accountable to their users, rather than hide behind blanket Section 230 protections.

Explicitly Overrule Stratton Oakmont to Avoid Moderator’s Dilemma.  Third, the Department proposes clarifying that a platform’s removal of content pursuant to Section 230(c)(2) or consistent with its terms of service does not, on its own, render the platform a publisher or speaker for all other content on its service.

The DOJ didn’t say this, but the government probably needs to break them up. They need to break up the newspaper powerhouses while they’re at it. Six companies basically own all that we hear and see in the MSM.

The FEC plans to look at this. Maybe Big Tech shot themselves in the foot.

READ THE KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM THE DOJ REPORT

 

 

 

 


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