Senator Hawley's Section 230 Reform Even Dumber Than We Expected; Would Launch A Ton Of Vexatious Lawsuits
from the dude,-seriously? dept
So there were rumors about Senator Hawley’s bill to reform Section 230 earlier this week, saying that it would remove 230 protections if you used targeted ads. Today, Hawley released the actual plan, which is very different, but even dumber. It would certainly turn the GOP from the party that wanted to push for tort reform and limit frivolous and vexatious lawsuits into the party that encouraged an avalanche of wasteful litigation.
The shortest version of the bill’s likely impact is that it would create an army of “content moderation troll” lawyers, because you could sue any platform that you felt removed your content unfairly and get $5,000 plus attorney’s fees. With a bit more detail, the bill requires that a platform have clear terms of service and any moderation would have to be tied back to those terms — which pretty much shows that whoever wrote this pile of shit has no idea how content moderation works, and the fact that you need to keep adjusting the actual content moderation practices, because dishonest people who are trying to abuse your system are always trying to game things to stay “technically” within the “terms” while still wreaking havoc on your platform.
The bill then says that if a platform makes any design or operation decision that is not in “good faith”, anyone can sue them for $5k and attorneys’ fees. Note that this seems to go beyond just moderation decisions. It includes a platform making design decisions that you dislike. That’s… crazy. There’s also the question of what is actually meant by “good faith” and all the 1st Amendment issues that raises, because determining what is and is not “good faith” is a straight up editorial decision, and the whole point of the 1st Amendment is that the courts can’t jump in to second guess editorial decisions.
To be clear, this law’s attempt to expand “good faith” seems to be purposely made in bad faith to simply overwhelm internet platforms with tons of lawsuits.
This bill flips the entire purpose of Section 230. As Jess Miers said, this bill seems to take the immunity from civil suits in the law and turns it into a private right of action for tons of frivolous and vexatious lawsuits.
It is not a serious attempt at reform. It’s an unconstitutional pile of crap that seems to serve no other purpose than to allow whiny aggrieved grifters to shake down every platform for their moderation and design choices.