Should Section 230 be repealed?


Section 230 says that “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider” (47 U.S.C. § 230). 

In other words, online intermediaries that host or republish speech are protected against a range of laws that might otherwise be used to hold them legally responsible for what others say and do. The protected intermediaries include not only regular Internet Service Providers (ISPs), but also a range of “interactive computer service providers,” including basically any online service that publishes third-party content.  They argue  internet companies — everything from social media platforms to online retailers to news sites — are generally not liable if a user posts something illegal. Backers of Section 230 credit in part for the success of companies like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, which depend on vast amounts of user-generated content.

However, this has created quite a bit of a problem in the United States.  Spreading conspiracy theories, fueling misinformation on Covid-19 and hate speech have driven polarization in this country.  But we’ve also learned just how much social devastation these platforms can cause, and that has forced us to confront previously unimaginable questions about accountability. To what degree should Facebook be held accountable for the Capitol riots, much of the planning for which occurred on its platform? To what degree should Twitter be held accountable enabling terrorist recruiting?

Its History

Section 230 was spurred in part by a crooked financial firm, Stratton Oakmont (made famous by its founder’s memoir, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Martin Scorsese’s eponymous film adaptation). In 1995, Stratton sued a now-forgotten Internet service provider (ISP), Prodigy, for libel for anonymous messages posted on one of its boards that accused Stratton of bad behavior. In ruling against Prodigy, a New York court held that because the ISP moderated its users’ postings and had deleted other posts it found inappropriate, it was acting as a “publisher” of the accusations, and as such had legal exposure for libels against Stratton.

Congress—intent on fostering a “vibrant and competitive free market” for the Internet “unfettered by . . . regulation,” and worried that rulings such as the one against Prodigy would create a disincentive for the nascent industry to remove harmful content—adopted Section 230.76 Under cover of this statute, sites have been able to manage online operations without having to evaluate every one of the countless posts that appear each day, while at the same time amplifying and profiting from those posts, even the hateful and obnoxious ones, with strategic ad placements.


What is section 230 and why do legislators want to repeal it?


*It was written in 1996 and the internet has evolved – we need an updated approach

*It is allowing terrorists and sex traffickers protected access to the internet

*United States courts have expanded Section 230’s scope – exceeding the language of the law An overbroad reading of the CDA has given platforms a free pass to ignore destructive activities, to deliberately repost illegal material, and to solicit unlawful activities while ensuring that abusers cannot be identified

*Section 230 protects providers of revenge porn and the sex trade

*The internet needed a broad liability shield in its early development – but not any longer

We should scrap Section 230  and use the “Duty of Care” Standards

Both political parties support reform

Comprehensive review of Section 230’s flaws Georgetown Law Technology Review

Consequently, judges have ruled that platforms cannot be held culpable for negligently, recklessly, or knowingly facilitating terrorism, harassment, sexual disparagement, non-consensual dissemination of intimate photos, housing discrimination, distribution of child sexual abuse materials, and other unlawful conduct. Absent that potential liability, platforms are less likely to moderate content, not more. 


*Internet usage and speed makes repealing 230 and returning to traditional liability inappropriate

*Section 230 has led to rapid internet growth

*Section 230 protects bloggers and free speech

*It protects the internet intermediaries such as service providers and site hosts from being sued because of the content they transmit or host.from 3rd parties.

*This law is unique to the United States, among western nations, giving it a competitive advantage over other countries.

Section 230 has been a boost to free speech!

We should scrap Section 230  and use the “Duty of Care” Standards

Both political parties support reform

Section 230 of the CDA works and provides advantages tro the United States

Repealing Section 230 hurts free speech

Section 230 is not to blame for content moderation problems