Facebook CEO Proposes Section 230 Reform that Allows Big Tech Censorship
Mark Zuckerberg calls for 'updated internet regulation' from Congress
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has put forward a proposal to reform current Internet regulations that will still allow Big Tech companies to censor content on their platforms.
Zuckerberg is proposing changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the controversial law that gives tech firms a range of legal immunities not enjoyed by other types of companies.
Under Section 230, social media and other Big Tech platforms fall under the "interactive computer services" category.
The current law protects companies in this category by not holding them liable for removing material deemed to be “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.”
A critical part of the legislation holds that interactive computer services won’t be treated as the publishers of user content, despite the fact the social media sites dictate what users see by blocking, removing, or promoting the content on their platforms.
Due to this clause, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other online platforms, large and small, can’t be held liable for material posted by their users.
In other words, if a Twitter user defames someone, Twitter isn’t liable.
But if a New York Times writer defames someone, they are liable.
This is the platform-publisher distinction, according to Breitbart.
Critics of the law on the left and right are at loggerheads.
The left wants the protections of the law to be conditioned on tech companies removing so-called “disinformation” and “hate speech.”
Critics on the right want it to be conditioned on tech companies giving users a platform for free expression and refraining from political bias.
Mark Zuckerberg, who will testify before Congress Thursday, has a proposal for Section 230 reform focused on removing illegal content.
He once again expressed Facebook’s support for “updated internet regulation” and his own hope that Congress will enact “thoughtful reform of Section 230.”
Zuckerberg noted that while the principles of the provision remain relevant, the internet has changed substantially in the last 25 years and suggested Section 230 “would benefit from thoughtful changes to make it work better for people.”
“We believe Congress should consider making platforms’ intermediary liability protection for certain types of unlawful content conditional on companies’ ability to meet best practices to combat the spread of this content,” Zuckerberg said.
“Instead of being granted immunity, platforms should be required to demonstrate that they have systems in place for identifying unlawful content and removing it. Platforms should not be held liable if a particular piece of content evades its detection — that would be impractical for platforms with billions of posts per day — but they should be required to have adequate systems in place to address unlawful content.”
According to current legal precedent, distributors of content, from tech companies to bookstores, are not held liable for unknowingly hosting illegal content.
They are only liable if they knowingly do so.
Under Zuckerberg’s proposal, tech companies wishing to enjoy the protection of Section 230 would have to go a step further, proving that they have systems to identify unlawful content.
This is, of course, an easier task for the Facebook monopoly, which has thousands of employees working on its algorithms, than it is for a smaller competitor.
Moreover, nowhere in Zuckerberg’s proposal is the issue of censorship of lawful content addressed.