The GOP wants to remove social media’s protections from being sued for content posted by users…but also wants to sue platforms for censoring content, which would increase as a result of removing protections.
GOP politicians in roughly two dozen states have introduced bills that would allow for civil lawsuits against platforms for what they call the “censorship” of posts.
The federal liability shield has long been a target of former President Donald Trump and other Republicans, whose complaints about Silicon Valley stifling conservative viewpoints were amplified when the companies cracked down on misleading posts about the 2020 election.
Experts argue the legislative proposals are doomed to fail while the federal law, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, is in place.
Part of a broad, 1996 federal law on telecoms, Section 230 generally exempts internet companies from being sued over what users post on their sites. The statute, which was meant to promote growth of the internet, exempts websites from being sued for removing content deemed to be “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable” as long as the companies are acting in “good faith.” Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act – Minc Law
Trump railed against Section 230 throughout his term in office, well before Twitter and Facebook blocked his access to their platforms after the assault on the Capitol.
“All of these tech monopolies are going to abuse their power and interfere in our elections, and it has to be stopped,” he told supporters at the Capitol hours before the riot.
Researchers have not found widespread evidence that social media companies are biased against conservative news, posts or materials.
“Greater transparency — such as that which Twitter and Facebook offered when they took action against President Trump in January — would help to defuse claims of political bias, while clarifying the boundaries of acceptable user conduct,” the report read.
Darrell West, vice president of governance studies at the Brookings Institution opined;
“This is red meat for the base. It’s a way to show conservatives they don’t like being pushed around,” he said. “They’ve seen Trump get kicked off Facebook and Twitter, and so this is a way to tell Republican voters this is unfair and Republicans are fighting for them.”