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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    nothing (profile), 14 May 2019 @ 6:28pm

    If 230 is about "material"...?

    I'm trying to understand how kicking people off a platform or preventing people from signing up fits into 230.

    It makes platforms immune from lawsuits for "any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material" and it allows them to filter whatever. Fine. It's about content and filters.

    "Any action" is used when referencing content (material). Nothing about users. Platforms can delete and filter as they please. How does this extend to banning a user who might post unpalatable content in the future when the law starts off saying how congress recognizes the internet is super duper because it "offer(s) a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad avenues for intellectual activity"?

    I understand why they can kick someone off for TOS violations. A TOS can be interpreted to mean anything. They use this excuse when notifying someone about being kicked off. Great. Do what you want. 230 and a platform's own TOS are different things. I don't understand how hiding behind 230 applies to a scenario where platforms are collaborating to choose which set of ideologies are permitted when 230 recognizes "true diversity" and all that good stuff. Maybe it's "any action", but that seems like a stretch.

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