Vox Admits It Got Section 230 Wrong, Fixes Its Mistake

from the good-work dept

Last week we wrote about how annoying it was that major media publications were misrepresenting Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and suggesting -- completely without merit -- that the law was designed to keep platforms "neutral" or that they were mere "pass through" vehicles, rather than actively engaged in moderation. We pointed out that online trolls and grandstanding politicians were making this incorrect claim, but it was not an accurate statement of the law, and the media should know better. In our comments, some people called me out for not suggesting that the media was being deliberately dishonest, and in response I noted that there wasn't any evidence of deliberateness from most of them (not so much with the trolls and especially grandstanding politicians like Ted Cruz, who have been told, repeatedly, that they are misrepresenting CDA 230). I hoped that it was just a mistake that would be corrected.

Perhaps surprisingly, the author of the Vox article that I called out, Jane Coaston, did exactly that. After a few others called out her article, including Harvard's Jonathan Zittrain, Coaston has now apologized and done a massive rewrite on the original article to make it more accurate:

In this era when so many people seem to want to dig in and defend incorrect things, I think it deserves recognition and kudos when people (especially reporters) can admit they made a mistake and to then correct those mistakes.

Filed Under: cda 230, jane coaston, section 230

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The First Word

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  1. icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 14 May 2019 @ 4:53pm


    What do you tell a woman whose ex-boyfriend floods Google with claims she did porn or turned tricks, and does it from a "burner IP” that makes it impossible to find out who posted it?

    Gee, I don't know, find out who defamed her? You really want to hold Google responsible for the revenge porn and defamation when they, you know, weren't the ones responsible!?!

    Look up “reputation blackmail,” where people from other countries demand payment from white-collar professionals in exchange for not ruining their reputations online by posting negative reviews. Some have threatened to call pediatricians pedophiles or similar if the ransom is not paid: https://marketingland.com/increase-extortion-fueled-reputation-attacks-points-need-legal-change-2288 98

    TechDirt has a lot of experience with them; they're called "IP Trolls". Also, do a search for "The Boob God".

    You support a law which has ruined lives and businesses for twenty-five years (one plumber can defame another by lying that they cut corners, and the liar then gets the job and does faulty work), and which does not exist in other countries.

    The First Amendment does not exist in other countries. Your argument is invalid.

    You apparently don't want to hold the people who defame responsible, but the sites on which they post as well. Are you insane? Why not hold just those who defame? I don't understand why you want to hold the web sites responsible as well. This means that I could post something defamatory on a web site and they will have to scramble to comply or face penalties for something they weren't even aware of. That seems like a worse scenario.

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