Gutting Section 230 Will Harm The Most Marginalized
from the a-warning dept
Elliot Harmon, from EFF, has an excellent op-ed piece over at the Hill pointing out that nearly all the talking heads are getting it wrong when it comes to Section 230. It’s not a gift to big internet companies. Indeed, as the piece argues, Facebook lobbied strongly for gutting 230 with FOSTA, and then took advantage of the gap in the market that was created after FOSTA became law:
Politicians on both sides of the aisle routinely treat Section 230 as a handout to tech companies ? or a ?gift,? as Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) recently put it. It?s a mistake to characterize large internet companies as the primary beneficiaries of Section 230. Let?s not forget that Facebook and other big internet companies actively lobbied for FOSTA, a law that made it considerably more difficult for a startup ever to unseat Facebook. You can?t make this up: Just a few weeks after the president signed FOSTA and multiple dating sites shut down, Facebook announced that it was entering the dating business.
There’s a larger point in his piece as well. Pay attention to whose voices are left out of the debate on Section 230. It is the marginalized and the oppressed.
Section 230 isn?t a gift to big internet companies. It?s a gift to rural LGBTQ teenagers who depend every day on the safety of their online communities. It?s a gift to activists around the world using the internet to document human rights abuses. It?s a gift to women who rely on dating apps to meet people more safely. Yes, Section 230 is the First Amendment of the internet, but it?s also the Fourteenth Amendment of the internet. Section 230 says, ?You are legal here.?
Section 230?s real beneficiaries are the historically disadvantaged communities that would risk exclusion from online discussions without it. Congress must listen to those voices before it?s too late.
Of course, in the minds of too many, Section 230 has come to represent “big internet.” This is both misguided and misleading. Section 230 is what enables the rest of the internet to work, so that anyone can speak out. Without it, we move from an open internet for communications, to a closed broadcast internet, in which the marginalized and the oppressed have no safe space to speak.
Filed Under: cda 230, free speech, marginalized, oppressed, section 230
Comments on “Gutting Section 230 Will Harm The Most Marginalized”
Oh, baloney! -- It'll MOST benefit the already obscenly RICH.
Section 230 is NOT "Law" in the classic American tradition of prohibiting specific actions, but is sweeping immunity and (according to masnicks) unaccountable authorization to control users / "natural persons". Look at in that light:
First, the text only says react to "restrict access to or availability of material": it doesn’t authorize "a priori" withholding of all "service" to "natural" persons for arbitrary or no reason. But it’s not limited in the view of pro-corporate masnicks.
Now let’s make slight addition which is implicit in Masnick’s view: "whether or not users are in a constitutionally protected class of race, creed, color, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation…" — It’s not even a step change, because once dropped "constitutionally protected" there’s no limit! — Anyone still want to take Masnick’s side? — Oh, you can try "he doesn’t mean that", and "it doesn’t say exactly that so courts won’t go along"…
But here’s the clincher where Masnick showed that he intends there be NO limits to corporate power: in arguing with me, Masnick simply DELETED the "in good faith" requirement!
How did those characters get removed from the middle of a quote? They’re vital, show intent of legislators besides who’s to benefit (the Public). And why were they removed except to try and affect the argument? — If Masnick did that in court, it’d be a crime of literally falsifying evidence.
Re: Oh, baloney! -- It'll MOST benefit the already obscenly RICH
[Length limit! Had to make two. Blame you know who.]
But he’s not done. In next reply to me, Masnick doubles down to affirm that without the "good faith" requirement is how he, corporations, and courts interpret it!
Without "good faith" [to The Public] is NEVER American law. It’s New World Order fascism.
This is not academic. Corporations mean business. They’ll "give you the business" by taking complete control of all speech so that there’s not even outlet to oppose their power grab.
Re: Re: Oh, balls- It'll MOST benefit the already crazy like you
Sup bro. Ain’t seen you much lately. You have another three day “vacation” with the nice men in white coats?
Re: Re: Oh, baloney! -- It'll MOST benefit the already obscenly
Ok first of all John blue whatever multiple personality you have in there:
I don’t even know why he has to have these conversations with you. Because you seem to think 230 means PEOPLE HAVE TO GIVE A SHIT WHAT YOU THINK AND POST IT UNDEE PENALTY OF LAW.
No it does not. You don’t know anything about the law. What a good or bad faith argument is. What you are even arguing about. And really it’s annoying. And if mike was acting in bad faith? Not only could he because this is his crib. He could could tell you that and it would 100 percent legal. Just like the others. But he does not because he is trying to keep things together.
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Try not to get worked up over whatever their latest inanity is, they simply aren’t worth the effort or energy.
But it does prohibit a specific action — specifically, the act of suing a person or company for the actions of a third party. Under 230, someone can’t sue Twitter for defamation if a third party posted (allegedly) defamatory content without Twitter’s direct knowledge or aid.
You put the actual text in your post, yet you still have the audacity to lie about it in your next sentence. The text of the law says nothing about “reacting”; any action, proactive or reactive, counts. A Mastodon instance that bans the use of, say, a racial slur and filters it out before someone’s post goes through is a proactive measure that is 100% allowed under 230.
No law exists that allows someone to force their way onto a privately-owned third party platform and use it for their own speech. Banning someone who breaks the rules is an “action voluntarily taken in good faith” to keep the platform from being overrun by rulebreaking content. That is as true for Twitter as it is for, say, some kind of family-friendly forum.
Which is exactly the point of “constitutionally protected”: We recognize that discrimination based on inherent traits (or their chosen religious creed) is bullshit. You can choose to be Republican or Democrat. You can choose to act like an asshole. You can’t choose to be gay, which is why people shouldn’t have to face discrimination based on sexual orientation — and yes, that includes straight people.
And as he explained: “[T]he courts have made it clear that ‘good faith’ means ‘whatever the platform wants’. And, as you know, ‘common law’ actually means what the courts say about the law, and so — you’ll love this — under the common law you insist is so important, ‘good faith’ means as long as the platform has a reason to moderate your bullshit content, that’s clearly allowed.”
He used either the Delete key or the Backspace key.
Let’s go to the legistlator himself, then:
Those are the words of Chris Cox, the legislator who co-drafted what would become 47 U.S.C. § 230. You can even read them yourself; they’re on the Congressional record.
Because, as Mike explaned, the words are effectively meaningless in the context of this argument. So long as a platform can offer a reason for their moderation decisions, the courts consider those decisions to have been made “in good faith”.
No, fascism is the United States federal government telling a company like Twitter that the law will force it to host all speech, no matter what, and any attempt to moderate speech will result in legal and financial punishments. Fascism is the government saying Twitter must associate with White supremacists and other such scum because to “disassociate” (read: ban) such people from the platform is also an illegal attempt to moderate speech. If you think Twitter banning an asshole from the platform for being an asshole is fascism, you have proven how far out of your depth you are in this argument.
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It doesn’t prohibit the suit. It says they can’t be treated as the publisher or speaker, or held liable for certain actions. Most suits will get thrown out on this basis and your example w/r/t defamation is correct. But 230 doesn’t preclude liability for other things, like intellectual property.
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Semantics. It’s still prohibiting something from happening. If you want to get technical, it’s prohibiting the site from having to pay fines or have employees serve jail time. Those are all actions being prohibited.
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"Only in certain cases" is the important part. It’s not just semantics that they can pay fines or even go to jail for copyright infringement, sex trafficking etc.
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No, it’s not important at all. That’s goal post moving. The fact remains that it is STILL prohibiting actions.
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Not even that. Mike was quoting a different paragraph from 230 that doesn’t contain those specific words.
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And the comments in this thread longer than yours got past it how?
Actually, that’s a lie. He said:
That’s not interpreting it without it. If you’re going to lie, maybe don’t link to the comment showing you to be a liar.
Yeah it is. Regularly. Regardless, 230 is interpreted WITH "good faith".
That is generally what corporations do, is business.
On their platform they are entitled to do so.
You have yet to show how that precludes someone from going to another platform, or hosting their own to speak.
What is immunity other than prohibiting actions being taken against you?
Yeah it does. You just quoted it: "otherwise objectionable".
No, that’s not implicit. A person being a member of protected class has nothing to do with what they say. Kicking someone out of a restaurant for what they say is different than kicking them out because of the color of their skin.
Exactly. There is no limit as to what user content websites can or cannot block.
Yep. Because the law doesn’t say what you think it says, and you’re lying.
Yeah, because you made it up whole cloth.
Funny thing about the courts, they generally are required to go with what the law exactly says.
No, he didn’t. I’ve explained this to you MULTIPLE times before. He quoted the paragraph down from the one you’re talking about. Plus the "good faith" requirement doesn’t mean what you think it means.
Because they weren’t in the paragraph he was quoting.
Not in the paragraph he was quoting.
So companies aren’t part of the public? Individuals who host their own websites aren’t part of the public?
Because they didn’t exist in the paragraph he quoted. You can’t remove something that wasn’t there to begin with.
If he submitted that exact post in court, it would be accepted without question because he quoted the exact text of the paragraph BELOW the one you keep whining about. He never quoted the entirety of the paragraph with the "good faith" requirement. Plus his argument is correct and yours is wrong.
If you did in court what you are doing now, you’d be disbarred for lying to a judge.
Why does the mere mention of Section 230 produce such an overwhelming flow of nonsensical bullshit and "Common Law" craziness?
If you’re talking about the above comments that’s just Blue, and nonsensical bullshit and common law craziness(though I repeat myself) are to them what breathing is to other people.
If it was a more general observation that’s likely due to the multitude of people making laughably flawed arguments and/or statements on the subject giving people extremely warped views of what the law actually is and does.
Because he believes that without it his comments would not be hidden, not realizing that without it he would have nowhere to post those comments.
It’s like that meme with the guy sweating over which of two buttons to push: One button is “destroy 230”, and the other is “post bullshit”.
Because according to copyright enforcement, Section 230 is the next obstacle stopping them from suing whoever they want.
Section 230 prevents platforms from being sued based on user actions. Without it, copyright enforcement envisions a utopia of lawsuits and subpoenas based solely on accusation. It’s why John Herrick Smith keeps ranting about calling women hookers and threatening the President as reasons for why IP address evidence is equivalent to God’s words.
So when dumbass politicians bitch about not being allowed to nuke the sites they dislike from orbit, it makes our usual trolls wet themselves in delight.
Much like with the first amendment popular speech and content doesn’t need protections and shielding, so of course those in the fringes are likely to suffer the most if sites have to worry about being held liable for any content posted on their platforms and are therefore incentivized to take down anything that might put them in the crosshairs.
Re: Well, yeah...
Pretending Censorship Is Free Speech
To placate perhaps 4 percent of us. Brilliant. No wonder so many folks are leaving the US that can afford it. It’s turning into a fascist nightmare.
Re: Pretending Censorship Is Free Speech
“4 percent of us”
4 percent? You ain’t got a penny lol
How does “the operators of a privately owned platform kicked an asshole off the platform for being an asshole” constitute fascism?
Because it is. Unless the government does it. Then it’s not allowed. But I can and will kick you of my house if you spout off this kind of BS.
Such as? Leaving the US is no more expensive than a plane ticket. I assume you’ve already left then?
Got some spine to put your money where your mouth is for once?
Re: Pretending Censorship Is Free Speech
“It’s turning into a fascist nightmare.”
But enough about your fever dreams bro. The adults are having a discussion.
Re: Pretending Censorship Is Free Speech
I am one of the 99% of people who:
(1) don’t have my own website
(2) depend on the kindness of strangers to host the content I’d like to share
(3) don’t want that content to be buried in irrelevant spam
I really appreciate the ability SEC 230 gives to websites to be kind to me. In my experience, it has always been simple to find a site where my content is welcomed and appreciated. Of course, anyone who produces a wide variety of content will have to spread it out over multiple sites. But that is a much simpler problem than administrating my own site.
Some people seem to specialize in finding ways to make themselves unwelcome online. SEC 230 gives the rest of us a place to hold discussions without them–while still giving them the right to find or create sites where they can decide who is unwelcome. But "I want to be not just a jerk but a public jerk" is not the kind of goal that will gain the enthusiastic support of idealistic people.
Know Your Enemy
"Pay attention to whose voices are left out of the debate on Section 230. It is the marginalized and the oppressed."
Pay attention to who’s promoting the re-marginalizations and re-oppressions. To them, twisting Section 230 to undo its proper intent quashes those pesky upstarts from the lower castes, who almost got some empowerment. Vote with your money, vote with your vote – condemn these asshats.
Now that it’s been brought to Congress attention, you can bet your bottom dollar that mrmbers will be all over 230 now to ensure it IS gutted! You know the rules, if there’s something you want done, something that is needed, an injustice that needs righting, bring it to Congress attention when members are trying to justify doing the opposite and whatever reasons they are given fuel their fire and they use those reasons to achieve what they have been trying to all along!
Its very unlikely that Congress will gutt 230.
Scaling back speech that wouldn’t otherwise have a voice is a feature of these proposals, not a bug.
The internet, and in particular user-generated media, has leveled the playing field making once-loud voices softer, and once-quiet voices louder. The problem some people have with this isn’t that Facebook/Google/Twitter are now gatekeepers, it’s that people are foregoing the traditional gatekeepers altogether.
The other problem more relevant to politicians wanting to gut 230 is that it’s made the voices that they like quieter and made voices they don’t like, louder.
It’s also made voices that nobody likes louder and has created an opportunity for politicians to "do something", no matter that that something will end up doing the opposite of what they want.
Masnick is dosing too much on the opium of the intellectuals these days. Speaking out against censorship does not require divisive oppression Olympics. The work benefits by including the largest possible population. We’re only looking at desire for the globe’s largest corporations to control and censor speech to an ever greater degree. Tech giants need a touch of the anti-trust stick and boost smaller competitors willing to operate within the law rather than authoritarian control wrapped in Tipper Gore language.
What law is Twitter breaking when it boots a White supremacist from the platform?
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Something something neutral public platform bullshit.
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Cabbage Law, clearly. Or is it Cole’s Law…? I can never keep those two apart.
As Stephen said, what law is social media breaking when they ban someone from their platforms for what they said?
Tell me again how if I get banned from any or all social media how that prevents me from starting my own blog and saying what I want to.
“Masnick is dosing too much on the opium of the intellectuals these days.”
And you’re just straight up high bro.
"Without it, we move from an open internet for communications, to a closed broadcast internet, in which the marginalized and the oppressed have no safe space to speak."
Now who is it that wants a closed broadcast internet?
The MPAA, RIAA, Hollywood, lots of politicians, and a smattering of conservatives. But not Mike and the entire rest of the world population.