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. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 14 May 2019 @ 11:27pm

    I've simply noticed dozens of pieces of content about some high profile people who were deplatformed.

    One of the big reasons you hear so much from right-wingers/conservatives/Republicans about it, rather than left-wingers/liberals/Democrats who also get booted, is because the first group is far more vocal about perceived “oppression” and “censorship” at the hands of “big tech” and “the mainstream media” and [insert appropriate boogeyman here] than the second. (Also people in the first group are far more likely to espouse views such as racism and homophobia that would likely earn them a “breaking TOS” ban.)

    I don't feel they use their influence for nefarious purposes.

    FYI: Alex Jones used his platforms to espouse the blatantly false (and potentially defamatory) proposition that the Sandy Hook massacre was a staged “false flag” event and both the grieving parents and the dead children were “crisis actors”. Jones’s bullshit eventually led to his followers harassing a number of Sandy Hook parents (who are now suing Jones for defamation). While he may have believed his intent was good (“I’m exposing a fraud!”), the effect of his act it its real intent.

    Some of these people now allege two far left organizations (CAIR and the SLPC) devoted to "social justice" (whatever that is) spent lots of money to create a fake social media campaign intended to get them kicked off popular platforms.

    Unless and until they can prove that theory, consider it bullshit. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    It's telling that the "alt-right" Farrakhan was used to pretend it was totally neutral.

    Even if Facebook showed absolutely no pretense of neutrality in banning “alt-right” shitlords, it would not matter — Facebook has an absolute right to ban anyone for virtually any reason. “Viewpoint discrimination” is a (mouthful of a) rallying cry for aggrieved assholes who think the First Amendment entitles them to the use of a third-party platform and an audience.

    I believe diversity and neutrality are different concepts and my empathy level for burdened platforms is very low. It's also irrelevant.

    Your empathy for burdened platforms could change one day, were you to find yourself in a position to host third-party content on a website you own/operate. If someone started posting racist propaganda on your theoretical website, and you knew you could neither delete their posts nor ban their ass because the law says you cannot, how would you feel about being compelled by law to host racist propaganda that you do not want to host?

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