If You Want To Know Why Section 230 Matters, Just Ask Wikimedia: Without It, There'd Be No Wikipedia

from the also-just-grow-up,-china dept

It sometimes seems that Techdirt spends half its time debunking bad ideas for reforming or even repealing Section 230. In fact, so many people seem to get the law wrong that Mike was moved to write a detailed post on the subject with the self-explanatory title "Hello! You've Been Referred Here Because You're Wrong About Section 230 Of The Communications Decency Act". It may be necessary (and tiresome) work rebutting all this wrongness, but it's nice for a change to be able to demonstrate precisely why Section 230 is so important. A recent court ruling provides just such an example:

On September 15th, in a victory for the Wikimedia movement and for all user-driven projects online, a Florida judge dismissed claims of defamation, invasion of privacy, and infliction of emotional distress against the Wikimedia Foundation. The judge found that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act immunizes the Wikimedia Foundation from liability for third-party content republished on Wikipedia. In other words, Section 230 helps Wikimedia safely host the work of Wikipedia's contributors and enables the effective volunteer-led moderation of content on the projects.

As the Wikimedia blog post notes, this was an absolutely crucial result. If collaborative projects that are created, maintained, and curated by volunteers could be held liable every time a user contributed something that was inaccurate or offensive, none of them would last very long -- not least because they generally lack the resources to fight expensive court cases. Back in 2017, Wikimedia wrote a detailed post on Section 230, and why it made Wikipedia and other sites possible

The court's ruling is a big win for Wikimedia. On the other hand, in something of a (minor) defeat, China has yet again blocked the Wikimedia Foundation's application for observer status at WIPO -- the only country to object. This is the second time it has done so, and for the same reason:

As in 2020, China's statement falsely suggested that the Wikimedia Foundation was spreading disinformation via the independent, volunteer-led Wikimedia Taiwan chapter. The United States and the group of industrialized countries at WIPO -- which also includes many European Union member states, Australia, Canada, the Holy See, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom -- expressed their support for the Foundation's application. Since WIPO is generally run by consensus, any one country may veto accreditation requests by non-governmental organizations.

China's blocking of a small, apolitical organization that aims to promote knowledge around the world just looks incredibly petty, and is hardly befitting for a world power.

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Filed Under: china, defamation, free speech, internet platforms, section 230, taiwan, wikipedia, wipo
Companies: wikimedia foundation, wikipedia


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Oct 2021 @ 4:11pm

    yet the rest of the world has no 230 and somehow has wikipedia.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    ECA (profile), 9 Oct 2021 @ 12:08am

    Billboard

    Make a LArge Poster.
    Show them That If they x? says something, it only affect this.
    If x?? says something it does that.

    Make it so a 2 year old could understand.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Martin Hooper (profile), 9 Oct 2021 @ 8:57am

    Why are China blocking Wikimedia? I have a feeling that it's about Taiwan.....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 9 Oct 2021 @ 11:23am

    Re:

    The CCP is like the Borg in that they have no beef with you until they see you as a threat.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2021 @ 12:22pm

    china blocks wikipedia, it has articles on human rights, democracy, free speech,uighers repression, lgbt rights, curruption among chinese official,s ,basically china is 1984, anything that reflects on real life or political freedom will be blocked or sanitised ,
    of course it does not like any source of free speech especially for minority groups

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 9 Oct 2021 @ 6:20pm

    Re:

    As I said, PRC is like the Borg in that they go after you if they see you as a threat (The US is more like a combination of Klingons and Ferengi).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 9 Oct 2021 @ 7:58pm

    Re: Re:

    I get ferengi but where/how does klingon come in?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 10 Oct 2021 @ 2:25am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Because of how violent our foreign policy is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 10 Oct 2021 @ 3:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Ah, fair enough.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    HTL MADRAS (profile), 11 Oct 2021 @ 12:45am

    Section 230 Matters

    but it's nice for a change to be able to demonstrate precisely why Section 230 is so important. A recent court ruling provides just such an example:

    https://htlmadras.com/blog-par-traffic-kaise-badhaye/
    https://htlmadras.com/mp3-juice-dj-free-mp3-m usic-download/

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Oct 2021 @ 12:55pm

    DO THEY?

    Wikipedia is very much a U.S. organization, despite its efforts to pretend to be multinational. They make a lot of cave-ins for political reasons, but push to shove they're based on U.S. law. Would Australia have Wikipedia, without the U.S.? Not a chance! They would never have imagined it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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