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How Attacks On Section 230 Could Put Addiction Recovery Efforts At Risk

from the so-many-issues dept

We keep trying to highlight the pitfalls and dangers of attacking the problems seen on social media as if Section 230 is the cause of them, rather than the mirror highlighting societal problems that other policies have failed to fix or have exacerbated. We already have one strong example of how attacking 230 only makes societal problems worse with FOSTA, which has put sex workers' lives at risk, made it much harder for law enforcement to track down sex traffickers, and has done absolutely none of the things the backers of the law promised in terms of solving societal problems.

Now, other people representing the interests of more marginalized groups are beginning to speak out and warn about similar pitfalls. Ryan Hampton, a recovery advocate, who has written extensively on opioid addiction and recovery, has a very thoughtful opinion piece over at The Hill noting how Section 230 reform will be a disaster for harm prevention and recovery efforts. While I disagree when he refers to Section 230 as "obscure," he's correct that chipping away at it will cause tremendous harm to his efforts to help those in recovery and those seeking to deal with drug addiction.

Just as advocates urged Congress to rewrite Section 230 to prevent sexual exploitation—a similar campaign is underway to prevent drug sales and curb America’s soaring overdose death rate. Horrific stories involving young adults buying drugs on Snapchat and TikTok abound. Some parents and advocates want Section 230 rewritten to increase liability of social media companies for drug sales on their platforms. But efforts to clamp down on online drug sales through Section 230 carve outs are somewhat misguided. Without careful considerations, these reforms would endanger the recovery community and harm reduction advocates—and threaten to stifle productive speech that is critical for progress to combat the overdose crisis. Current proposed 230 carve-outs could undermine access to lifesaving resources, mandating takedowns of broad categories of content, and forcing vulnerable populations, including those navigating supportive services, off-platform. For criminalized communities, the risk for exploitation and harm offline is significant, and support and resources can be limited.

As Hampton explains:

Harm reduction efforts—and conversations—are often nuanced and specific to the individual, aiming to minimize harms of substance use. Blanket content bans, prescribed without consideration of context and nuance, could punish those seeking help—hamstringing legitimate, proven approaches to combatting overdoses.

Instead of broadly crushing free speech and pushing social media companies to eliminate our ability to share resources, the U.S. government should focus its efforts on things that work. To save lives, policymakers must develop a realistic national strategy to combat the overdose crisis, including implementing evidence-based prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery support services on the community-based level. Don’t kill the conversation.

This is why we keep pointing out that so much of this debate really seems to be about politicians, who have failed to put in place policies to help solve underlying societal problems, now see attacking Section 230 as a convenient way to brush those problems (and their own failures to deal with them) under the rug. If no one can discuss these issues without fear of liability, maybe people will just forget what's actually happening?

It's good that people like Hampton are speaking up and calling out the very real human risks of attacking Section 230, and silencing speech, rather than dealing with the underlying problems. The question, though, is whether any policymaker will listen.

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Filed Under: addiction, addiction recovery, fosta, health, information, section 230


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  • icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 15 Dec 2021 @ 12:08pm

    Good for Hampton

    I'm glad he's speaking out too. If far too many people won't listen to sex workers, won't they at least listen to recovering substance abusers? If not, §230 "reform" is not about solving problems but creating new ones.

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

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 16 Dec 2021 @ 12:43am

      Re: Good for Hampton

      "If far too many people won't listen to sex workers, won't they at least listen to recovering substance abusers?"

      Probably not. You know the conservative values of today; "Compassion is for the weak, whores and junkies have themselves to blame. They should all just pull themselves up by their bootstraps and can rejoin civilized society after they've dealt with their own problems...because Fuck You, Got Mine and Who Gives A Shit About Other People" is what they live by these days.

      With 25% of the US population willing to suffer grievous personal harm as long as it means some liberal or other is owned I suspect any legislation or policy with actual humanitarian intent will be shouted down by aggrieved hysterics trying to portray helping sex workers as an attempt to sell the children of honest americans into trafficking.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2021 @ 1:13am

        Re: Re: Good for Hampton

        Which really is more down to our puritanical mindset really.

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

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 17 Dec 2021 @ 1:59am

          Re: Re: Re: Good for Hampton

          "Which really is more down to our puritanical mindset really."

          One of the more harmful products of religion, I find. The idea that an arbitrary stance of conduct gives the adherent the perception of being allowed to look down on absolutely everyone else is just horrifying.

          There's probably some deep psychology in the viewpoint which tells you that harming yourself and others is a Good Thing. Because It Is Written (which, ironically, it's not, because puritanism has no backing in that bible they keep thumping).

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2021 @ 1:05pm

    Ima let you finish after you answer just one question

    Oh let's all point and laugh as K-dawg once again publicly embarrasses himself much to the delight of the audience.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2021 @ 4:47pm

      Re: Ima let you finish after you answer just one question

      Who cares about Koby? John Smith is where the stupidity is truly at.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2021 @ 3:25am

        Re: Re: Ima let you finish after you answer just one question

        No, Koby Is the stupid one, John Smith is just out and out nuts!

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 15 Dec 2021 @ 2:09pm

    from 2020

    https://www.commonwealthfund.org/blog/2021/drug-overdose-toll-2020-and-near-term-actions-addressing- it

    reading this is Kinda interesting.

    "Deaths related to synthetic opioids played a large role in these explosive increases. Prepandemic research documented the rapid and deadly growth of fentanyl within the drug supply, including in combination with drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine."

    "remained elevated above 7,000 through the end of the year. Before 2020, U.S. monthly overdose deaths had never been higher than 6,300."

    "These increases were not confined to areas often associated with the opioid epidemic such as West Virginia and Kentucky. California, Colorado, Washington State, and Wyoming all show increases above 35 percent. Nine of the top 15 increases occurred in Southern or Appalachian states."

    And allot of red states are party places.
    in 2020, 93,000 died of overdose.
    0.031% of the population
    Knowing the problems from the past, the only reason they are saying ANYTHING is because MORE White people are being affected.
    Percent increase for Whites? 24%. NOt as bad as the others, but we have to consider the important fact. SYNTHETIC isnt a big word.
    Anyone for some Mormon tea with abit of passion flower?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2021 @ 5:18pm

    But that's the point

    Don’t kill the conversation.

    If I make it so no one talks about it, I can pretend it doesn't exist. If it doesn't exist, there is nothing I need to do and life is now perfect.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2021 @ 12:38am

      Re: But that's the point

      That's the thing.

      This whole thing about 230 is about two things as pointed out:

      1. Controlling what people can and cannot say online.

      2. Sweeping societal problems under the rug. (Out of sight, out of mind!)

      Some have legitimate reasons but it often boils down to these 2 reasons, either one or both.

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

    • identicon
      Rocky, 16 Dec 2021 @ 5:31am

      Re: But that's the point

      It's not at all the point because you missed to take the preceding context into consideration. It all starts with assholes being assholes among other people which leads to one of the following:

      1. The other people go somewhere else leaving the assholes behind.
      2. They tell the assholes to take their shit somewhere else through various means.

      In the context of social media this means that for #1 we have a platform mostly consisting of assholes and for #2 we get more and more policies and rules for what's acceptable or not which invariable will lead to over-moderation and collateral damage while the entitled assholes scream about "censorship".

      TL;DR: As always, we can't have nice things because of the assholes.

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

  • icon
    nasch (profile), 16 Dec 2021 @ 11:59am

    Things that work

    the U.S. government should focus its efforts on things that work.

    That is not generally how Congress operates. They want things that get them reelected. Whether they work or not is somewhere between secondary and immaterial.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2021 @ 12:25pm

      Re: Things that work

      They want soundbytes that sound good. That they "stood up to Big Tech". They care not about how they do it and if it even works.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 18 Dec 2021 @ 4:25am

        Re: Re: Things that work

        And even if it doesn't work and they get pounded in the election because people hate it they'll go on and insist the REAL problem was that they didn't go far enough!

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


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