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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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2019 @ 6:44am


    What action could you take if the law says you cannot delete those posts because you are required to remain content neutral and your platform is forced by law to host any legally protected speech regardless of whether you want to host it? And what would you do if your platform became more known for the assholes exploiting your “free speech zone” for their amusement than for being a “content neutral” platform?

    That scenario would be the result of elected officials making that the will of the people. I don't think we're quite there yet. The free-speech zone would have filters. I could make people post under their legal names, refuse to defend them in lawsuits to unmask them, etc. It could theoretically happen but if it did then a majority of Americans would support platforms as a common carrier. There could be "positive filtering" too that just doesn't include certain speech.

    Please keep in mind that I think internet censorship is self-correcting so I'm not against it. AOL tried it and literally destroyed their business model when they could have become the first trillion-dollar company. They had almost the entire internet audience subscribing at one point. All they had to do was allow users to send each other money (paypal took that revenue), give everyone a keyword (the web took that), and let users do business with their accounts (social media wound up taking that). This also would have resulted in users making money, paying more of it in taxes, creating jobs, etc. Instead we've burned the internet and its money to the ground, while making a few companies rich.

    For someone who says the "burner IP" scenario hasn't happened (it has), and doesn't need to be discussed, this is a rather odd hypothetical.

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