Gutting Section 230 Will Harm The Most Marginalized

from the a-warning dept

Elliot Harmon, from EFF, has an excellent op-ed piece over at the Hill pointing out that nearly all the talking heads are getting it wrong when it comes to Section 230. It's not a gift to big internet companies. Indeed, as the piece argues, Facebook lobbied strongly for gutting 230 with FOSTA, and then took advantage of the gap in the market that was created after FOSTA became law:

Politicians on both sides of the aisle routinely treat Section 230 as a handout to tech companies — or a “gift,” as Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) recently put it. It’s a mistake to characterize large internet companies as the primary beneficiaries of Section 230. Let’s not forget that Facebook and other big internet companies actively lobbied for FOSTA, a law that made it considerably more difficult for a startup ever to unseat Facebook. You can’t make this up: Just a few weeks after the president signed FOSTA and multiple dating sites shut down, Facebook announced that it was entering the dating business.

There's a larger point in his piece as well. Pay attention to whose voices are left out of the debate on Section 230. It is the marginalized and the oppressed.

Section 230 isn’t a gift to big internet companies. It’s a gift to rural LGBTQ teenagers who depend every day on the safety of their online communities. It’s a gift to activists around the world using the internet to document human rights abuses. It’s a gift to women who rely on dating apps to meet people more safely. Yes, Section 230 is the First Amendment of the internet, but it’s also the Fourteenth Amendment of the internet. Section 230 says, “You are legal here.”

Section 230’s real beneficiaries are the historically disadvantaged communities that would risk exclusion from online discussions without it. Congress must listen to those voices before it’s too late.

Of course, in the minds of too many, Section 230 has come to represent "big internet." This is both misguided and misleading. Section 230 is what enables the rest of the internet to work, so that anyone can speak out. Without it, we move from an open internet for communications, to a closed broadcast internet, in which the marginalized and the oppressed have no safe space to speak.

Filed Under: cda 230, free speech, marginalized, oppressed, section 230

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2019 @ 2:11pm


    Section 230 is NOT "Law" in the classic American tradition of prohibiting specific actions, but is sweeping immunity

    What is immunity other than prohibiting actions being taken against you?

    First, the text only says react to "restrict access to or availability of material": it doesn't authorize "a priori" withholding of all "service" to "natural" persons for arbitrary or no reason.

    Yeah it does. You just quoted it: "otherwise objectionable".

    Now let's make slight addition which is implicit in Masnick's view: "whether or not users are in a constitutionally protected class of race, creed, color, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation

    No, that's not implicit. A person being a member of protected class has nothing to do with what they say. Kicking someone out of a restaurant for what they say is different than kicking them out because of the color of their skin.

    once dropped "constitutionally protected" there's no limit!

    Exactly. There is no limit as to what user content websites can or cannot block.

    Anyone still want to take Masnick's side?

    Yep. Because the law doesn't say what you think it says, and you're lying.

    Oh, you can try "he doesn't mean that",

    Yeah, because you made it up whole cloth.

    "it doesn't say exactly that so courts won't go along"...

    Funny thing about the courts, they generally are required to go with what the law exactly says.

    But here's the clincher where Masnick showed that he intends there be NO limits to corporate power: in arguing with me, Masnick simply DELETED the "in good faith" requirement!

    No, he didn't. I've explained this to you MULTIPLE times before. He quoted the paragraph down from the one you're talking about. Plus the "good faith" requirement doesn't mean what you think it means.

    How did those characters get removed from the middle of a quote?

    Because they weren't in the paragraph he was quoting.

    They're vital,

    Not in the paragraph he was quoting.

    show intent of legislators besides who's to benefit (the Public).

    So companies aren't part of the public? Individuals who host their own websites aren't part of the public?

    And why were they removed except to try and affect the argument?

    Because they didn't exist in the paragraph he quoted. You can't remove something that wasn't there to begin with.

    If Masnick did that in court, it'd be a crime of literally falsifying evidence.

    If he submitted that exact post in court, it would be accepted without question because he quoted the exact text of the paragraph BELOW the one you keep whining about. He never quoted the entirety of the paragraph with the "good faith" requirement. Plus his argument is correct and yours is wrong.

    If you did in court what you are doing now, you'd be disbarred for lying to a judge.

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