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
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 15 May 2019 @ 11:43am

    If you think filters work 100% of the time, you are mistaken — to say the least. And no one works harder to get around filters than an asshole with a grudge.

    The key point in this hypothetical is the one you keep ignoring: The distasteful/hateful content you would theoretically be forced by law into hosting is content you never wanted on your platform at all. Under a hypothetical where platforms were forced by law to host any and all legally protected content, if you ran a Black Lives Matter blog with an open comments section, you would be forced by law to host White supremacist propaganda in the comments because you could neither delete the comments nor ban the commenters. If you ran a pro-LGBT forum, you would be forced by law to host pro-“conversion ‘therapy’ ” propaganda even though it runs counter to everything you would likely want your forum to be. I could come up with other examples, but those two should keep your brain busy for now.

    A good administrator should foster a healthy community through intentional moderation, not say “nothing I can do, freeze peach” when someone asks why all the Nazis are posting swastikas all over the place. That you see the second option as the preferable one is…telling of your experience within Internet communities.

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