Section 230 Is Controversial
As you can see from the title, whether Section 230 is controversial or not, is not a question. It has always been controversial.
However, when the job creator and China thwarting in chief President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Thursday, striking down “censorship” that the social media platforms practice through the privilege of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, the controversy became more visible once again.
What does Section 230 entail?
Section 230 is deemed to be one of the fundamental pillars of the Internet as we know it today, protecting freedom of expression and innovation on the Internet. Now, what does it actually do? It gives social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. the power to allow any content on their platform without owing accountability.
They are a hosting service, not a publishing platform; so, what they edit, censor, flag, or regulate is up to them. However, this section also has a provision that allows the platforms to regulate factually incorrect information, hate speech, racially charged speech, and such.
So, what’s the problem?
The question is, should such platforms be liable for the content that is posted on them? What happens if they are? There are two sides to this issue.
If Section 230 prevails, it may mean that the social media platforms, ALL of them, remain all-powerful in controlling content, their relevance, their context, their visibility, their tags, and more on their platforms. This can seem like a striking down of freedom of speech. A conglomerate is deciding whether what YOU say is acceptable or not. Not people, not your friends, not who your content effects, but a company profiting from your interactions.
But, oh, there is a flip side to it. What if there is no Section 230? You would think it will be all great, but let’s dive deeper into it.
It would be the end of the Internet as we know it. There can be many possible paths. In one, there could be websites, apps, and social media platforms that neither restrain nor moderate any of their content; so, you get all the hate, all the extremism, all the misinformation, and all the conspiracies without check. The second scenario could be that EVERY piece of content is screened before it is posted.
The third scenario could be that these platforms stop being what they are and become curated, edited, professional news platforms and hopefully they don’t side with ISIS, promote policies that destroy African American children via Planned Parenthood, destroy public education via political correctness, pass policies that undermine the health of cities such as San Francisco, Detroit, and Baltimore like CNN and MSNBC does. Can social media rise above entities like the New York toilet paper Times (China, Russia, and Iran don’t hope so)?
A few parting words
It seems like there is no ideal solution. We don’t know what’s to come. We can only hope whatever happens proves to be beneficial for us, the public. It is not a corporation vs. public situation if we look into it; it is more of choosing the lesser of two evils; at least that’s the only two options we have for now.