Think Of The Kitten: A Crash Course On Section 230

from the presidential-education dept

We are so hip here at Techdirt that we’ve been writing about Section 230 long before it was cool. But even though everyone and their President seems to be talking about it these days, and keen to change it, it does not seem like everyone necessarily knows what it actually says or does. Don’t let this happen to you!

The embedded video below is of a presentation I gave earlier this year at ShmooCon where I explained the magic of Section 230 through the lens of online cat pictures. As we head into more months of lockdown, our need for a steady supply of cat pictures has never been more important. Which means Section 230 has never been more important.

In this presentation I explain why we have Section 230, what it does, why it works, and how badly we jeopardize our supply of online cat pictures (as well as a lot of other good, important stuff) if we mess with it.

Tune in!

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Comments on “Think Of The Kitten: A Crash Course On Section 230”

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sumgai (profile) says:

The answer would be yes, there was a "right’ added by § 230, the right to be free of culpability for allegations, accusations and assignations of blame for the actions/words of another, without having to prove your innocence first, such actions/words being the basis of an actionable tort. The doctrine arises from the long-standing common law that no person can be held responsible for the actions of another without some kind of attachment such as parent/child, or a contractual relationship of some kind.

While 1A defines and supports the meaning of "free speech", it deliberately excludes private parties from such efforts to control said speech, thus giving rise to the efforts of butthurt asshelmets to seek compensation for their lack of a proper upbringing (i.e. getting whacked upside the head every time they whined "that’s not fair!").


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Anonymous Coward says:

"We are so hip"? You are hip? Hippy? Are you from the 1960’s?

You are leftist anarchists, elitists and traitors to your countrymen, funded by the Chinese, and promoted by Big American Multi-National Corporations. The same people who fund BLM fund you, disgusting globalist corporatist assholes, like Intel, Nike, and other seditious rat bastards.

Rocky says:

Re: Re:

Here we see a perfect example why section 230 is so important.

A butthurt idiot spews forth garbage which some will consider defamation. But that’s perfectly fine since any consequences of this persons speech falls directly on him and not Techdirt.

What this below average intelligence person don’t realize, is that without section 230 the only place he could rant would be in private. In some sense that would improve the world but it wouldn’t outweigh the negative consequences for free speech.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You may want to think about who you are speaking with, and the tone of the times, and what you see on the news. America is falling. Whether or not my butt hurts, I will soon be head of the local tribe of the local peacekeeping and community support council, who will hold all local power with no constitution whatsoever in the near future. That’s right. Think about it. If you live in America, most big cities are going to DEFUNDTHEPOLICE. That’s my idea. Because when they are gone, ME and my BLACK FRIENDS are IN CHARGE! FOR REAL! You want to see negative consequences. Give me your address, and I will have 3 BLM/AntiFA AGENTS (certified) IN YOUR FACE IN 5-35 MINUTES! (depending on Uber)

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I haven’t seen someone this delusional since Donald Trump thought he could pose for a photo in front of a church he’s never attended while holding a Bible he’s never read and not catch shit for either the blatantly hypocritical photo op or the teargassing of protestors (and clergy) prior to said photo op.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Yup, that’s right. Donald Trump is white, and until he gets down on his knees in front of the black people that he oppressed, and his family oppressed, he doesn’t deserve to go anywhere or do anything. He could join the protests, that would be OK, but then he has to chant with us. Anything other than that, well, he can’t do. No one can do. If you want to go outside, it is only for protesting, nothing else, or we will arrest you and charge you with white privilege and corona violations. But if you protest, and chant, then you’re OK. Well, you have to kneel, too, and say you’re sorry for 200 years of oppression of black people. And you have to give us your money, and your property. If you don’t, we will burn everything down, the white house too, because, hey, it’s white. White people are over.

Zane (profile) says:

Individuals privacy

So who protects the individual, say who has inaccurate information about them posted on a platform, and I am talking more about a member of the public who is unfairly identified and defamed as opposed to someone who has a public role. I get and support the reasons generally for not going after platforms for the content. As you note they can’t moderate all content – but there will be circumstances when perhaps they should moderate, or at least consider it and give a reason for their stance. The concentration on the right of free speech is good, but there needs to be some thought about the rights of privacy, and some responsibility for platforms who do not intervene in certain circumstances. Some sort of balance. Most private individuals are unlikely to have the funds to fight defamation, and although that’s great for platforms and those who abuse them – it’s not great for the little guy who may not be able to find a job because someone posted something inaccurate or misleading on a platform.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:


The concentration on the right of free speech is good, but there needs to be some thought about the rights of privacy, and some responsibility for platforms who do not intervene in certain circumstances. Some sort of balance.

In which circumstances “should” platform operators intervene? What punishments should they face if they don’t? And what possible balance, if any, could we possibly strike between one person’s right to speak their mind about someone else and that someone else’s right to privacy?

(Yes, this is a bit of a Gish gallop, but all the questions are on-point, so I don’t consider it unfair.)

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