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Would Repealing Section 230 Promote Free Speech as Trump Says?


#President #Donald #Trump vetoed the #National #Defense #Authorization #Act on #December 23 in part because lawmakers did not include a measure to repeal #Section 230 of the #Communications #Decency #Act of 1996. The #House voted #Monday to override the veto, which is now on its way to the #Senate.

The president threatened to veto the sweeping $740 billion defense bill earlier in the month if #Section 230 was not repealed. #According to CNN, the defense bill would include funds to increase #American soldiers’ pay, modernize equipment and provide provisions for stricter scrutiny before troops withdraw from #Afghanistan and #Germany.

#On #Tuesday evening, #Majority #Leader #Mitch #McConnell introduced a parallel pandemic relief bill to the one passed by #Congress last week that would offer increased direct payments of $2,000 (up from $600) to individuals, as sought by #Trump and #Democrats, as well as a repeal of #Section 230 and legislation pertaining to election fraud studies.

The #Claim

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#Section 230 has been criticized as a means for social media companies to censor speech on their platforms. #Trump, who has had several posts flagged or removed from #Twitter, has called for the legislation’s repeal on several occasions. #He said repealing #Section 230 would promote free speech.

#In #May, an executive order on preventing online censorship was issued, which stated, “section 230 was not intended to allow a handful of companies to grow into titans controlling vital avenues for our national discourse under the guise of promoting open forums for debate, and then to provide those behemoths blanket immunity when they use their power to censor content and silence viewpoints that they dislike.”

The executive order specifically called out #Twitter for “selectively decid[ing] to place a warning label on certain tweets in a manner that clearly reflects political bias.”

“#As has been reported, #Twitter seems never to have placed such a label on another politician’s tweet. #As recently as last week, #Representative #Adam #Schiff [D-Calif.] was continuing to mislead his followers by peddling the long-disproved #Russian #Collusion #Hoax, and #Twitter did not flag those tweets. #Unsurprisingly, its officer in charge of so-called ‘#Site #Integrity’ has flaunted his political bias in his own tweets.”

#According to #Reuters, the #Center for #Democracy and #Technology (CDT), which is funded by #Facebook, #Google and #Twitter, filed a lawsuit in #June against the executive order. The complaint argues that the order violates the #First #Amendment. #Reuters reported earlier this month that the lawsuit was dismissed because the order was directed at federal agencies, not social media companies, to limit the scope of #Section 230.

#In #September, #Senators #Marsha #Blackburn (R-Tenn.), #Senate #Commerce #Committee #Chairman #Roger #Wicker (R-Miss.) and #Judiciary #Committee #Chairman #Lindsey #Graham (R-S.C.) attempted to reform instead of repeal #Section 230 to limit the type of content that social media companies could moderate while maintaining freedom from liability.

“#We do think that it is important that there be a revisit and not a repeal of #Section 230,” #Blackburn said.

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#Recently, #Trump has received support to repeal #Section 230 from other elected officials including #Representative #Lance #Gooden (R-Texas) and #Graham, who have both pledged not to override the veto of the defense bill.

#According to #Roll #Call, across the aisle, #House #Speaker #Nancy #Pelosi also opposed #Section 230, calling it “a real gift to #Big #Tech.” #Pelosi did, however, vote to overturn the veto of the defense bill.

The #Facts

#Section 230 of the 1996 #Communications #Decency #Act was written by then #Representatives #Chris #Cox (R-Calif.) and #Ron #Wyden (D-Ore.) to allow internet companies to regulate themselves, limiting government control of what is now the massive industry of internet service providers.

#According to the #Council on #Foreign relations, companies such as #Twitter and #Facebook cannot be treated as publishers, meaning they serve as hosts and are not liable for what people post on their platforms but can act as moderators in “good faith.”

#Some politicians feel that the ability for platforms to be their own moderators allows social media companies to censor speech while others have claimed that social media companies have not done enough to respond to misinformation and other issues on their platforms.

#In an interview with The #Atlantic in #November, former #President #Barack #Obama addressed the dangers of misinformation on social media.

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“I don’t hold the tech companies entirely responsible,” #Obama said, “because this predates social media. #It was already there. #But social media has turbocharged it…if we do not have the capacity to distinguish what’s true from what’s false, then by definition the marketplace of ideas doesn’t work. #And by definition our democracy doesn’t work.”

The bottom line is that social media companies can’t be sued for content posted on their platforms but can remove content that doesn’t adhere to their rules, guidelines and policies. #For example, #Twitter has the right to flag or take down posts that encourage violence, promote terrorism, involve child sexual exploitation or include a litany of other safety concerns.

#On #October 28, #Facebook CEO #Mark #Zuckerberg testified before the #Senate #Commerce #Committee about #Section 230. #He stated, “#Without #Section 230, platforms could potentially be held liable for everything people say. #Platforms would likely censor more content to avoid legal risk and would be less likely to invest in technologies that enable people to express themselves in new ways.”

#Zuckerberg went on to say that #Congress should update the law to ensure it’s “working as intended.”

#Jeff #Kosseff, an assistant professor of cybersecurity law at the #United #States #Naval #Academy, echoed #Zuckerberg’s testimony, saying, “I think that if you eliminate #Section 230, you’re going to see all the platforms, from the largest tech companies to small community news sites, be much more restrictive in terms of user content that they allow to be posted on their sites because they’re suddenly going to face a substantial amount of liability for those comments.”

#Many people who consider flagging as a form of stifling freedom of speech have turned to #Parler, which is a platform that considers itself an unbiased social networking service. #So far, #Trump has not expressed displeasure with the site.

#Parler states in its community guidelines that, “#We prefer to leave decisions about what is seen and who is heard to each individual. #In no case will #Parler decide what content will be removed or filtered, or whose account will be removed, on the basis of the opinion expressed within the content at issue.”

The #First #Amendment of the #Constitution states, “#Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the #Government for a redress of grievances.”

The #First #Amendment guarantees the right to freedom of speech but does not guarantee freedom from the consequences of that speech.

#In the 1919 #Supreme #Court case #Schenck v. #United #States, #Justice #Oliver #Wendell #Holmes concluded that the #First #Amendment does not protect speech that creates a “clear and present danger of a significant evil.” #In other words, if people are promoting violence or harm against others, then that use of speech is exempt from constitutional protections.

The #Ruling

#False.

#Repealing #Section 230 would not promote greater free speech because social media companies and other internet platforms likely will restrict the content on their sites to avoid liability and the associated overwhelming legal fees.

#Further, the clear and present danger rule exempts speech that promotes violence from #Constitutional protections. #Social media companies do not limit #First #Amendment rights by flagging or removing posts that promote harm or violence to other users.





[ source link ]
https://www.newsweek.com/fact-check-would-repealing-section-230-promote-free-speech-trump-says-1557886

##Repealing ##Section ##Promote ##Free ##Speech ##Trump

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