Rolling Back Big Tech’s Legal Immunity

| June 18, 2020

People can’t win via an actual contest, they try to leverage the administrators to take action against the victor. (r/The_Donald/)

President Trump and conservatives ponder a change in Big Tech’s legal status given their censoring of conservative content. Are they a social media platform or a publisher? The Department of Justice is going to roll out policy change proposals affecting Big Tech via Section 230.

If they’re going to decide on what content is permissible, then some objectivity is in order. Posts related to online scams, criminal activity, and other undesirable activities should be aggressively dealt with. The editing or censuring of conservative posts may be harder to address though.

From Breitbart:

Section 230 gives Big Tech companies immunity from lawsuits arising from user-generated content. If a person is defamed on Google, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or other big tech platforms like Reddit, those platforms are not legally liable for the content like a traditional publisher might be. This allows social media platforms to host billions of posts from users without a potentially crippling legal risk.

As Big Tech platforms have grown increasingly interested in censoring content posted by their users, however, many lawmakers have argued that they are behaving like traditional publishers, censoring and editing and approving their users’ posts. As such, a growing number of lawmakers have argued that the legal immunities of Section 230 should be contingent on platforms maintaining a hands-off approach to the speech of their users.

Another problematic element of Section 230 is subsection c-2, which grants tech companies immunity from lawsuits arising from their censorship of “objectionable” content. This immunity gives them broad leeway to censor users, leaving no legal recourse for those who are censored — even if their social media accounts are critical to their livelihood or career.

Any policy changes, related to Section 230, would need congressional approval. Although both sides agree that Section 230 needs updating, they disagree on the specific problems that the Trump Administration wants to address. Democrats will naturally want to be resistant to policy proposals coming from the Trump Administration.

Breitbart has more here.

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Category: Politics

Comments (30)

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  1. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    Social media outlets like Farcebook will censor pictures of what happened on 9/11 while allowing people to post drawings of figures in black clothing beheading a Police Officer, damned if that isn’t blatant double standards!

    • Commissar says:

      One Facebook moderator allowed one man to post one picture one time. The explanation is simple; Facebook moderators are low paid idiots.

      As for the 9/11 stuff; nonsense. Facebook did not censor pictures of what happened on 9/11. It put a sensitive content warning on an image because it portrayed a tragic death.

      The image was not censored or removed, you just had to click it to see it, versus an image that would otherwise just pop up on your feed when you opened facebook. The image would still be on your feed, just blurred until you clicked it.

      Seems reasonable.

      You can argue that some portrayals of death are historically significant and thus should not get the warning, while other people’s deaths are irrelevant to history so people should get a warning that the image portrays those deaths.

      That argument makes no sense,

      You can also argue that people should just be able to post any image of any person being killed and it should be visible on anyone’s feed at any time depending entirely the wishes of the person who posts it.

      But I think it is reasonable that those images get a warning.

      The world is a brutal place. People are brutal to each other. There are things we all have seen that we wish we could forget.

      People browsing Facebook should get to decide whether they want to deal with the brutal reality of our world when browse their Facebook page. Sometimes people just want to relax and not deal with death and suffering. Even if it was historically significant.

      • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

        IMHO the Farcebook censors are fools with mentalities just like yours, I once got a 30 day ban for posting a meme insulting Che Guevara who was in reality a lowlife commie terrorist.

        • Commissar says:

          I have had my fair share of irritation at Facebook mods.

          So it is unclear which of us is correct.

          They are either at least as stupid as me or, possibly, even as stupid as you.

          • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

            In your pissy little world, my bet is that EVERYONE except you and those who completely agree with your mindset are complete and total idiots!

  2. Commissar says:

    This does not effect only big tech.

    It effects all websites, including this one.

    Depending on the final language, and depending on whether it passes, sites like this could be held liable for things people post.

    Not just obvious liability like someone posting libelous statements, but even potentially liable for lawsuits like psychological distress if one user says mean things to another.

    I am not sure what the right balance is, but I am concerned this entire effort is motivated by Trump not liking the fact that twitter essentially put a warning on one of his posts that the post might not be true.

    Twitter gives Trump far more latitude for behavior than it allows other users. Primarily because the CEO sees allowing the president the platform as a public good, and he sees being able to communicate on social media platforms as a human right.

    However, Trump has posted hundreds of things that would get other users banned. And Twitter was trying to experiment with ways to moderate him without censoring or banning him.

    The extent to which Trump outright lies for his personal benefit is a problem. It is directly leading to an increase in infections with respect to CV19 because he is the primary, and damn near exclusive reason that people on the right are half as likely to wear face masks and follow social distancing rules then people on the left.

    I don’t know what the right answer is on this. Personally I think Trump being able to tweet whatever he like is a public good. It allows this country to see the kind of person he is. Reminded people of it every single day.

    On the other hand, I do think it is reasonable that Twitter try to mitigate the impact of his lies. I think the warning label was a good compromise,

    • George V says:

      I think the issue with social media and other internet platforms being liable for content goes well beyond the president’s complaint about 1 tweet.

      This problem goes back years, with selective deletes, shadow banning, de-monetizing and other practices that take place against conservative commentators while not taking place against viewpoints from the left that are equally if not more incendiary.

      The final straw was more likely an employee of NBC news influencing Google to implement an advertising ban on the website “The Federalist” because of comments on The Federalist’s site, which are in turn managed by a third party.

      If The Federalist is responsible for it’s comments section, surely Google, Facebook, Twitter and other sites and providers are responsible for theirs. Hence, they are “publishers”, not “platforms” and are liable for content.

      I will ignore your gratuitous and off-topic Trump comments, realizing with you it’s more of a nervous habit or reflex action.

      • Commissar says:

        The issue goes back further, and it is a broader issue.

        But this current action, spurred by the presidents executive order, is entirely due to Trump throwing a tantrum over his tweet getting a warning that it may contain false information,

        • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

          Sounds better in “Chef-Speak”:

          Zee-a issuoe-a gues beck fuorzeer, und it is a brueder issuoe-a. Buot zees cuorrent ictiun, spuorred by zee-a presidents ixecuotife-a ourder, is inturely duoe-a tu Truomp thruoing a tuontruom oufer hees tveet getting a verning zeet it mey cunteen felse-a inffurmetiun,

    • OmegaPaladin says:

      Then I guess we had best get rid of you, to reduce our exposure.

      • Commissar says:

        Yeah, probably, if the language of the bill leaves this site potentially liable.

        Probably should just get rid of the comment section altogether.

        Most sites will. If a social media site is liable for user posts then many will just disable the feature. A lot already have because it is a pain in the ass to moderate, even when not liable.

        Services like Facebook and Twitter can’t just do that.

        But those that can will.

      • Commissar says:

        But it is interesting to see you claim that I create psychological distress for you.

        Should I add a trigger warning to my posts, snowflake?

        • SFC D says:

          I think what you create is more proctological than psychological.

        • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

          “Buot it is interesting tu see-a yuou cleem zeet I creete-a psychulugeecel deestress fur yuou. Shuould I idd a trigger verning tu my pusts, snuoffleke-a? Bork Bork Bork!”

    • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

      Your tripe sounds better in “Chef-Speak” once again!

      Juone-a 18, 2020 it 9:41 im Zees dues nut iffect ounly beeg tech. It iffects ill vebsites, incluodeeng zees oune-a. Dependeeng oun zee-a feenel luonguoege-a, und dependeeng oun vhezeer it pesses, sites leeke-a zees cuould be-a held leeble-a fur zeengs peuple-a pust. Nut juost oubfiuous leebeeleety leeke-a sumeune-a pusting leebeluous stetements, buot ifee-a putentielly leeble-a fur levsuoits leeke-a psychulugeecel deestress iff oune-a user seys meuon zeengs tu unuzeer. I im nut suore-a vhet zee-a right beluonce-a is, buot I im cuncerned zees inture-a iffurt is mutifeted by Truomp nut leekeeng zee-a fect zeet tvitter issentielly puot a verning oun oune-a ouff hees pusts zeet zee-a pust meeght nut be-a truoe-a. Tvitter geefes Truomp fer mure-a letituode-a fur behefiur thuon it illuos ouzeer users. Primerily becuose-a zee-a CEO sees illuoing zee-a president zee-a pletffurm is a puobleec guod, und he-a sees beeng ible-a tu cummuonicete-a oun suceel medeea pletffurms is a huomuon right. Huoefer, Truomp hes pusted huondreds ouff zeengs zeet vuould get ouzeer users buonned. Und Tvitter ves trying tu ixperiment vit veys tu muderete-a heem vithuout censuring our buonning heem. Zee-a ixtent tu vheech Truomp ououtright lees fur hees persunel beneffeet is a prublem. It is durectly leedeeng tu un increese-a in inffectiuns vit respect tu CF19 becuose-a he-a is zee-a primery, und demn neer ixcluosife-a reesun zeet peuple-a oun zee-a right ire-a helff is leekely tu veer fece-a mesks und fulluo suceel deestuonceeng ruoles zee-a peuple-a oun zee-a lefft. I dun’t knuo vhet zee-a right unsver is oun zees. Persunelly I zeenk Truomp beeng ible-a tu tveet vhetefer he-a leeke-a is a puobleec guod. It illuos zees cuountry tu see-a zee-a keend ouff persun he-a is. Remeended peuple-a ouff it ifery single-a dey. Oun zee-a ouzeer huond, I du zeenk it is reesuneble-a zeet Tvitter try tu meetigete-a zee-a impect ouff hees lees. I zeenk zee-a verning lebel ves a guod cumprumeese-a,

  3. 5th/77th FA says:

    Until recently was lurking on Sister’s Fakebook. Saw lots of censorship and read of more re API’s comment. My main purpose was looking for phonies and their tales of derring do. And puppies. I love puppies. Again, anything transmitted can and will be received; anything said can and will be used against you. Guess some lies are OK, ie tales of derring do, whereas others are not; ie Unicorn farts smell like cotton candy.

    Modern technology, ain’t it great! Remember when this was the latest and greatest? Would have been following this route in Nebraska over the last few days. 4 months to place 27K poles and string 2K miles of wire. Takes Ma Bell now-a-days longer than that to rewire 1 city/neighborhood street.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_transcontinental_telegraph

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      Is that the wire line setup that set the telegraph stations on fire in the 1870s, when the Sun spit out a coronal mass ejection that hit Earth?

      • 5th/77th FA says:

        Yep. We still called it Open Wire Iron, and believe it or not in some areas it was still in use until very recently. We dismantle several reels full of it along old rights-of-way (ours and others), and even more alongside railroad rights of way. We still have/had required repair parts for that outside plant. The design was for long transmission runs. A lot of that ran on 48 volt dc with a 2 amp push. That dog would bite hell out of you if you weren’t careful with it. I’m sure that Wilted Willy and a few others that are here worked with either that or an equivalent copper.

        The famous picture of the snow coming almost to the wire on the poles is an example of that type of outside plant. Most people think that is a power line, but it’s open wire phone lines. I have a quantity of the original glass insulators that were used for telegraph, then telephone, long before the power companies came along.

        https://www.bing.com/search?q=telegraph+insulators+vintage&qs=AS&pq=telegraph+insulators&sk=AS2&sc=4-20&cvid=81FE2EAC14134EF881490D486F886F02&FORM=CHRDEF&sp=3

  4. Skippy says:

    I was and have been wondering why no one
    Aka Republicans we’re so no interested in going after this then I saw donations from big tech companies to there campaigns who would have thought

  5. Twist says:

    I know that there was an issue a while back where Facebook purged a lot of those full of shit right wing sites, but left alone the full of shit left wing sites like Occupy Democrats and The Other 98%.

    • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

      Like I said, Farcebook is FULL OF double standards, ditto with Twitter!

    • Commissar says:

      It is funny how this is the perception on the right.

      The perception on the left is that Zuckerberg is pro Trump.

      And it does ban left wingers as well.

      They ban any “inauthentic and coordinated behavior”…

      Essentially trying to deal with the tendency for accounts to exploit bots, gaming the Facebook algorithms, and mass messaging to promote propaganda.

      Facebook want users to share content. Not mass marketing and propaganda machines,

      They want the only mass marketing to be their paid advertisers. And the only propaganda to be individually user shared beliefs and opinions.

      Though hate speech, malicious targeting of individuals, and inciting violence can get you banned or suspended.

      • Blaster says:

        AND anything that they don’t like or agree with gets the label “hate speech”.

      • Mason says:

        And that’s the problem. They aren’t a public square if they’re trying to eliminate free speech. They’re editorializing. Propaganda is free speech, as CNN reminds us daily.

  6. RetiredDevilDoc8404 says:

    Facebook, the realm of Zuck the schmuck. The geniuses who decided a Pulitzer Prize winning photo from 1968 that appeared on the front page of the New York Times was kiddie porn (the NYT is a lot of things, but the peddler of kiddie porn ain’t one of them). They also regularly hammer scale model groups and military history pages that post World War II images with a swastika in it for promotion of hate speech. They also allow people to get away with mass reporting of a page for BS reasons, and remove the page even though they are shown there was no violation of their standards.

  7. USMC Steve says:

    At least as far as Facebook is concerned, the argument can be made that it is a business, publicly traded on the AMEX, and thus they cannot legally discriminate against anyone without fear of retaliation/repercussions. If it was just a social networking system that he built and was not for profit, which it most assuredly is, he could get away with most any sort of anticonservative discrimination he wants.

  8. Hack Stone says:

    If you get thrown in Facebook Jail, are you required to report that on your Periodic Reinvestigation? Hack has yet to be placed in Facebook Jail, although he did temporally have one of his posts flagged as false a few months back. Can’t remember specifics, but it may have had something to do with Jeffrey Epstein not killing himself.

  9. OldSoldier54 says:

    It’s been patently obvious for years that Facebook was biased. It’s why I bailed in Obama’s first term.

    I don’t think anything more needs to be done than to move them from the “platform” column to the “publisher” column. Then let them get the crap sued out of them for Libel and Slander.

    The same needs to happen to Youtube, Google and Twitter.