Politicians Want to Destroy Section 230, the Internet’s First Amendment

Politicians Want to Destroy Section 230, the Internet’s First Amendment


Tech enjoys a special immunity from liability. We should consider amending section 230. For the privilege of 230 there has to be a bigger sense of responsibility. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube aren’t open platforms, they’re censors. TV personalities and politicians are calling for changes to section 230. The 1996 law that makes possible the internet as we know it. But they don’t seem to have a clue about what the law actually says, or who it really protects. The goal here Kim is not to get less speech, the goal is to get more speech. Section 230 allows for the free exchange of ideas on the internet. And it may be just as important to online free speech as the First Amendment. Section 230’s most important sentence reads as follows: 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. But a lot of people have found creative ways of redefining what the law says. Big tech made effectively a bargain with Congress and a bargain with the American people. We’ll be neutral, we’ll be fair. We won’t be biased, and in exchange for that, we’ll receive what is effectively a federal subsidy. Neutrality is not a condition of the law. In fact section 230 was designed in part so that internet companies could discriminate by filtering out content that’s illegal, indecent, or just otherwise objectionable. Before section 230, online companies feared that any moderation would make them legally liable for user content. Section 230 explicitly says that’s not the case. Good faith and voluntary attempts to filter out unwanted posts and users are okay. Without section 230 it would be hard for companies to avoid lawsuits and criminal charges without either becoming cesspools of totally unmoderated speech, or banning user-generated speech entirely. They’re becoming de-facto publishers. They’re actually the messengers. They’re not the moderators of an open forum. There is no legal distinction in section 230 between a publisher and a platform. The word platform doesn’t even appear. What matters for legal purposes is who is responsible for creating particular web content. Judgment calls about user speech, however poorly executed and whatever ideological biases are apparent, just don’t affect whether a company is broadly protected by section 230 or not. Big tech has gotten these giveaways from government, this sweetheart deal from government, where they can’t be held accountable. Big tech enjoys a special immunity from liability. People like to pretend section 230 created a legal loophole. But the Congress that passed section 230 back in 1996 was explicit. Section 230 would not apply when it comes to federal criminal laws. And it would not apply to intellectual property law, which means that copyright violators and serious criminals do not get a free pass because of section 230. What the law does provide is limited protection from criminal charges brought by state or local law authorities and some immunity from getting sued in civil court. This immunity is lost if a company creates illegal content itself or if it edits content in a way that contributes to its illegality. And it’s lost if a company participates in illegal acts to obtain that content, or otherwise engages in or profits directly from some elicit action. In general, section 230 is meant to leave room for holding online operators accountable for their own sins, but not for those of their customers. If they’re gonna have this special immunity, that nobody else gets by the way, they should not discriminate. Section 230 doesn’t only benefit companies. As attorney Jeff Kossef, author of The 26 Words That Created the Internet, says, there are also significant free speech benefits to the public. Section 230 shields not just providers of digital services from litigation, but the users of these services too. Without it anyone could find themselves liable for retweeting, reblogging, or posting links to content that is later found to break the law. Yet for all the protections it provides to readers, writers, academics, shit posters, entrepreneurs, activists, and amateur political pundits of every persuasion, section 230 has somehow become a political pariah. The political class wants everyone to believe that the way the US has policed the internet for the past quarter century, has actually been lax, immoral, and dangerous. Don’t believe them. The future of free speech, and a lot more may depend on preserving section 230.

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100 thoughts on “Politicians Want to Destroy Section 230, the Internet’s First Amendment

  1. I have spent a lot of time explaining everything in this video to people who mention the publisher/platform distinction that doesn't exist or the notion that companies have to be in any way neutral. If people are going to argue about the law, they need to actually read and understand the law.

    Personally, I prefer the cesspool model.

  2. Why should Twitter, Facebook, YouTube be exempt from libel and slander lawsuits when fox news, cnn, etc. Aren't?

    If they want to stop acting like a neutral platform, they can be treated like publishers. The government literally gives them power on the assumption they will not and cannot enforce their own beliefs onto others.

  3. I can't believe you guys in the comment section call yourselves libertarians but somehow equate regulating companies to a push for free speech.

  4. Social Media sites Create content by manipulating the availability and order of data. It is much more complicated than me typing on a keyboard but it is still an act of creation. Making analogies comparing the physical world with the digital world are never perfect (which is a large part of the problem) but bear with me… In the trope where a serial killer cuts up pieces of a newspaper/magazine to create a new message, the killer is Creating by choosing letters/words (availability) and re-ordering those letters/words. It is more obvious that the original content creators (newspaper/magazine publishers) didn't create the message because it is physical. Digitally, you can write code (HTML/Java) that grabs letters/words from other web sites to do the same thing without ever actually writing any part of the final message. Social Media sites are doing this on a larger scale by manipulating the message instead of just letters/words (word/phrase censorship aside). They are not hosting content like an ISP, they are actively shaping content. [For a more visual analogy, search "photo bubbler app"]

  5. I am a lifelong libertarian and I have to disagree with Reason on this one. Big tech are censoring and suppressing free speech of the conservative and center right proponents. If New York Times disagrees with you, your views never get published. If big tech disagrees with you, you can publish but they can make sure no one else sees your post. That makes the big tech effectively editors in traditional print media companies.

    What is "objectionable speech"? Who defines it? Big tech must not enjoy the legal immunity while behaving like an editor in New York Times. If Section 230 is repelled, big tech will be forced to change their practice to promote a more equitable forum of free speech or double down to shut out all conservative voices and lose market share.

  6. Sure – protect 230 – but, those companies no longer acting w/in the structure of 230 are no longer covered the protection. You don't get to say "we're not a publisher" then editorialize and claim protection under 230 – you are no longer an open source of information – you are creating and steering the information and should therefor not qualify for the protections 230 provides.

  7. All these angry statists wanting to fix problems by limiting companies. The best way to fix the bias problems is to get more competition involved. I mean there are allready services like that in place, check out the Steem platform or the MaidSAFE project, they are all working hard to put bad tech companies out of business.

  8. Are you people stupid? THE COMPANYS STATE THEY ARE NEUTRAL PLATFORMS

    Direct lie and antitrust action is necessary.

    Lolbertarian tier crap

  9. Hey, let's get the religious cabal people out of government and industry.
    FREEDOM from religion is the best policy. They are the ones behind all of this. No dual citizenship people in our government, no dual citizenship people running businesses.
    You are either with this country or you are against it, if you are against it, you have no place here. Period….
    Get out and stay out….🤬
    Comment scrubbing is against the law.

  10. This video is entirely based on the premise that there's only 2 options: keeping §230 as it is, or remove it and have no protection at all!
    The law is bad, therefore it ought to be changed. Implying that's a boolean choice (all or nothing) is a fallacy. I expected a channel named "ReasonTV" to realize that…

    For example here is how I would rewrite it: websites are protected as long as they don't filter what is published by default.
    However, they can implement op-in filters (eg: "children-friendly" "not safe for work", "community downvoted", etc.) and remain protected (as long as it's not the default behavior and that users specifically and actively choose to subscribe to such filters).

    We could also imagine an exception for website "specifically" targeting children, all allow them (and only them) to filter content by default (to me, children are the only protected class, and aren't even citizens per se, so I see no issue creating exceptions for them).

    Of course it would require lot of refinement and legal definition, but that's also why §230 is so bad: at the time the Internet was new and nobody had a clue of what it would become.
    Now that we have a better understanding of the Internet, we ought to rewrite it to fix all the censorship issue we are experiencing (because Youtube removing half a billion comments and hundreds of thousands of videos overnight is indeed an issue!).

  11. koch funded open boarders reason tv everyone.Skirting over the fact that no one wants the law repealed in full just the immunity to be lost to specific bad actors like Twitter & google. To hold them accountable for what is on their site since they themselves want to steer it toward the left while lying about it.

  12. I really can't wait to hear with ReasonTV says when YouTube bans them for being 'nazis.' I wonder if they'll still cry, "but muh free markets" when it happens to them. But hey, they're pro-abortion, pro-drugs, and for open borders, so I'm sure Big Tech will let them continue because it serves their ends.

  13. If big tech is both censoring political speech they disagree with AND actively engaging in the pursuit of election outcomes they should be regulated in a manner to protect legal speech of users.

  14. It's real simple if you don't like a platform create your own or support a different one. Additionally, website hosts are not responsible for the websites' users' actions.

    Anything else, like everything in this video, is nonsense.

  15. Looks like the whole controversy around social media went over reason tv's head. The issue isn't section 230 like theres a problem with it and needs to be rid of, the problem is that social media is using it to receive protections while acting as publishers.

    "There's no such legal term as platform" people use the word platform to indicate what social media should be instead of what it is, platform is what social media pretends to offer its users when in reality, again, acts more like a publisher. People get banned for not breaking any rules under a social media policy. That's the problem.

    Also no one is arguing the illegal actions someone does while online, the issue is there's nothing against the law with having a political opinion. The changes congress is suggesting isn't to make the internet less free or let criminals run loose its instead to protect speech from being targeted from social media, in other words people cannot be targeted for having political views on say Twitter. To put it another way it would be as if Apple wanted to ban people from its services because the listened in on your phone calls and didn't like what you were saying.

  16. Uh oh! Retard alert! Retard alert, class!

    1:12 "Neutrality is not a condition of the law" …. Which is precisely the problem!

    Being able to shut down views with the blessing of the government makes Section 230 the exact OPPOSITE of the First Amendment!

  17. End all regulation, free the market now. End it. Your trying to fix a problem that was caused by regulation in the first place. Lol

  18. If Internet infrastructure companies weren't stopping competition I would agree. They have a monopoly being used to manipulate elections. Reason doesn't get it.

  19. ReasonTV again and again showing it's true allegiance to the Democrats and not freedom loving ideals
    Bunch of "libertarian"crypto-democrat gatekeepers

  20. Section 230 is used in conjunction with a virtual monopoly by tech giants who dominate the internet so they can push their agenda.

  21. The dislikes and comment section are a pretty nice litmus test for how "libertarian" people are when it's them who lose free services…

  22. There are things which offend all of us, even people who post offensive things. Even they are offended by something, but free speech, even the freedom to say something very very offensive, the dreaded n word for example, is absolutely imparitive.

    If the government clamps down on the internet, some will say it's great. Somone will be there to stop all of those mean people who post all of those mean comments, they'll stop all those people posting dirty pictures and creating forums devoted to dirty sex talk, they'll get rid of all those racists, sexists, gay bashers, and other biggots on the internet, they'll shut-up all of those dumb anti vaccers and people spreading dumb ideas which simply aren't true, all of these conspiracy people and political weirdoes who get people to act like "sovereign citizens" and disrespect our brave police officers will all be gone.

    First, no, that won't happppen. It will change but nottt go away. Years ago, Chicago banned guns. There are now certain neighborhoods where the police don't go except for during very serious situations, because of all of the, surprise surprise, guns, or more accurately, the people willing to use them on the police. Banning something does not make it sease to exist.

    What if it did though? Fine, you'll be happier than Jeff Epstine at Disney World until what you are about to promise won't happen does.

    someone in power will decide something you believe or support, something you just talk about, is disgusting and wrong. Then, you're the monster, the shitposter, the biggot, the nutjob, the person who's speech can't be allowed, even in a "free" society.

    You'll get comments like, "Well, I'm all for free speech, and all that, but you just can't say stuff like that," and "noone's taking away your freedom of speech. You can say whatever you want in your own home. you just can't post something like that online, where everybody can see it."

  23. This is so entirely misleading. Shame on you REASON! I am unsubscribing. No, Section 230 doesn't identify a difference between publisher's and platforms but other sections of the US code and case law does. US Code isn't applied in a vacuum you imbeciles! How much has Facebook and Google paid you, SELL OUTS!

  24. I really enjoy ReasonTV's content, but this video is really missing the forest for the trees. The like to dislike ratio of Reason's audience seems appropriate.

  25. I think this video conflates amending the section with doing away with the section, presenting a false dichotomy to the viewer.

    Should it be amended? Amending it to protect unpopular speech while preserving the protections to the companies who remove illegal speech, is likely to be perilous waters to navigate.

    It seems these days that few are concerned about unpopular speach, and protecting people's right to it isn't so politically popular, untill it's what you said that others find unpopular.

  26. These companies own sins are fraud by violating THEIR OWN terms of service when they boot someone for reasons OUTSIDE those ToSs.

  27. This is a very uneducated commentary. Section 230 was written to project ISPs from liability for users speech. When you edit speech based on your own standards, you become part of that speech – it becomes yours. So Google et. al must own that.

  28. So what your saying is that section 230 need to be redefined. With a scale. Do these things for so many days and your publisher or do these things for so many days and your a provider. each starts off with permit till they get a full pass by government. Is this correct?

  29. Everyone putting their eggs in one or two baskets. That's the problem folks. These companies got rich on your free speech and now they hate your free speech once they gained your trust and got the power. Start posting to the alternative sites, because there's plenty out there. I mean are you going to continue bitching about companies that are on a systematic downfall or are you going to brave your way to other tech sites who are openly for free speech. This is turning into people today watching MTV in hoping there's going to be music being played. Newsflash MTV is not going to play music and Youtube isn't going to be about You.

  30. Those damn cesspools of free speech. The nice thing about any platform is that you can block people you dont like. This is literally self contracting, so do nothing and allow hyper partisan tech monopolies to control the government

  31. This may be the first video from reasonTV that i disagree with. While i may now know the history before section 230 the logic makes no sense.

  32. I want them to destroy it too. Why do we want BIG GOVERNMENTTTTT deciding which industries win by giving this big ole subsidy in the form of unusual immunity to internet companies?

  33. So then why are these tech companies controlling constitutionally protected speech? Why are they allowed to ban users for their opinions? Seems as if you are not telling the whole story.

  34. When someone breaks the law, incites violence, makes credible threats, or doxes anyone, those are already enforceable laws.
    Section 230 protects service providers and platforms from repercussions for committing those crimes.
    That is what part (C) points out.
    When you are moderating what legal opinions you allow, you are not adhering to the "good samaritan" clause. You are instead becoming a publisher, which are NOT covered under this clause, because no laws are usually broken.
    These laws exist outside of the internet just so you know. For instance, if a famous person uses an auditorium and incites violence, the auditorium owners are not responsible.
    The idea of an amendment would be to add liability if free speech is restricted, such as revocation of that protection.
    Basically, you are advocating to silence people, they saying it's the company's free speech to silence them for any reason.
    I don't agree. +ReasonTV being anti-free speech really bothers me.

  35. I could be mistaken, but I don’t recall anyone really calling for repeal of 230. They’re just arguing that the social media sites are acting as editors by restricting speech that is clearly legal.

  36. So when I was banned from twitter for showing NBC News vans, illegally double parked in the handicap parking at a polling station. Because "hateful or abusive content" and was forced to retire my twitter account or take a week ban after removing the post… Then when contested it was up-held. Despite only accusing them of what I provided photographic evidence for, to an actual crime in progress. (covered by the the good samaritan law in the real world)
    To you that was justified censorship of my free speech. I didn't even have to break the rules on twitters website.

  37. you guys got this one completely WRONG – google and FB and twitter are banning free speech, conservatives and anyone who exposes their corruption and illegal censorship…..election rigging is immoral and illegal…they are now deciding what they want to promote and ban – aka PUBLISHER….

  38. The one point in here to be made, and you guys messed it up in a video that is way too quick and out for this big topic. But seriously, you just call online free talks as "cesspools" and walk away? No, slap whoever wrote that shit on the wrist. Free speech includes ugly "cesspool" speeches, and that's what you're going to hear from people who believe that's the struggle and end the sentence there. The difference you had to mark, and an easy one, is bringing up how one might control and filter a site's purpose in the same way a store filters out shoppers from loiterers. Moderation was the right term, but its not just to clean "ugly" speech, its so that things function in a basic sense where a website can open up a communication network without being forced to allow everything ever with no breaks. You can't have a family friendly forum where people post porn and call it "free speech", nor invoke lawsuits on yourself for blocking a harasser as if their account to yours is "free speech".

  39. I'm all for unmoderated speech, period. When a company does willfully and intentionally silence speech of others, they need to be held accountable. So if they are using this section, which I read, to, clears my throat, to moderate the content fairly, I am all for it. Problem is, they don't and they are not being held accountable. So get rid of section 230 and rewrite it and add a new section. Simple enough or guess what big government will come down on them. Life is so much fun lol

  40. Content that is harmful like hate speech, threatening people, inciting violence should be removed. But having opinions and views that may differ from your own is complete agenda driven censorship. Just look at ANTIFA propaganda all over the net which is full of content inciting violence against others.

  41. Oh yeah…almost forgot to mention this.
    When Der Holy Mother KO$$ACK$chtaat wants to do something unconstitutional, it creates a multinational “private” corporation and licenses the crime by way of it. Your first clue to its origin is it pops into existence and popularity out of nowhere. Additionally, it’s started by Khazar$ & run by Papi$t$, just like a government bureaucracy. What should really alarm you, is that the prison & criminal justice systems are both headed in this dangerous direction!
    Facebook, Google (spying), Fannie Mae (bribes for votes from femin$TAZI) & the Federal Reserve (interventionist police actions & Welfare bribes) would not exist were this not so!
    Read something a REAL Champion of American liberty wrote about Just ONE Of these shyster outfits:

    http://humansarefree.com/2019/09/ron-paul-federal-reserve-needs-to-be.html

    If you still feeeeeel the atheistic leftists at “Reason” are all about liberty, you probably also think Muslims did 9-11 and Santa Claus is real.

  42. This video is basically one big "Your solution sucks!" statement. No alternatives given. Even if everything in the video was perfectly true, it's still reckless, like destroying a bees nest with a hammer.

  43. funny how this video says free speech is at risk, but free speech being censored is what started this debate. If you want to talk about clear violations, youtube profits from copyright violation everyday. In fact, pirate music and movies is what made youtube. They were about to be sued into oblivion until Google moneybags bought them and settled. But at that point youtube was #1 in video. Another thing, 230 doesn't say platforms has to "moderate" content, nor does it define 'objectional'. It only says these internet cos. can't profit from copyright infringement and they have to remove copyright material when it found, BUT they aren't responsible legally as the infringer. This 'moderation' bs is just an excuse to abuse power of controlling the discourse. I've been on the net since bbs's. This nothing more than a chat room mod bringing down the 'ban hammer' on ppl just because they can. That does not protect free speech. Now, maybe some have been a little innaccurat ewith their description of 230, but they aren't suggesting to change it. They're saying lots of 'platforms' are VIOLATING it!

  44. Whoever wrote this hot garbage should be fired. So much corpostate pimping here. You might as well get checks from the DNC, the new Nazis.

  45. This article surmises that protecting free speech requires allowing monopolistic platforms to be the gatekeepers of what is acceptable. This take is Un-Reason-able.

  46. I actually seen a short little segment on an Amazon show where the protagonist describes the sin of omission. I thought that was funny.

  47. Internet moderators are the enemy of intellectuals. Comment cesspools are the friends of intellectuals. Cesspools are the only means of maximizing intellectual growth. www.dissenter.com

  48. Meh, the tech giants brought this on themselves with their shenanigans over the last few years. I think adding more government controls will not fix any of the issues people have complained about, as bureaucracy usually just exacerbates such issues in the long run, but I am not surprised that the politicians/media are going after them with all the public discontent that has been brewing for a while.

  49. Yessss, but Google is clearly biased and lies about it. They blocked Mike Rowe. MIKE ROWE, because he upset an SJW. You can search certain topics, with quotations, and depending on the voting season it won’t appear on the first page. They’ll ban videos, call it copyright, but let their political allies show it. Facebook shutdown a moderate labor party in Spain, days before the election.
    for weeks prior they were prohibiting or hiding their content. Stephen Crowder was banned because one person sent out ONE tweet, and that townhall meeting they had with YouTube was telling. She practically struggled not to say, “We want to ban non-left content, but we really can’t.”

    Not saying we should do what Cruz is saying, but I miss the Wild West days of the internet.

  50. Web content is not sticks n stones, it is merely words. If they bother you, walk away. Why is this still debated? Cable is trash, google and youtube are garbage, we just don’t give them our money. What a lazy and spoiled society. Ruining it for everyone else smh.

  51. Reason and Libertarians have their heads so far up their ideological butts that they can't see the massive danger of the control of free speech, in the real world, that has arisen in the past few years. We live in a world where not only our speech but also the information we can access is controlled by a very tiny number of massive companies. Companies that created and maintain their monopolies by buying up any legitimate competition.
    I'm libertarian friendly but would never put my trust in libertarians to see reality that doesn't fit their theories.

  52. As a libertarian I say this with respect, but you you need to speak to the matter of speech monopolies of you're going to speak to the benefit of section 230. This is lacking at best.

  53. The last thing you mentioned is good, but it will become completely obsolete when Amazon bans you from their grocery store because your Alexa overheard you make an offensive joke, and because of that ban, other companies follow suit and ban you from their stores. What’s the point of an amendment if it can’t even protect anyone?

  54. This is a dishonest presentation of the arguments. Section 230 should be modified such that any provider who moderates or curates content for any reason other than illegality shall be deemed a publisher, and shall not be immune from liability of that content. People aren't saying that there is too much free speech on the Internet; we're saying that "offensiveness," and similar standards are too subjective, and infringe on free speech. Facebook, Twitter, Google, and any other provider can restrict any content for whatever reason they want, but then they are publishers, and must be held accountable for those editorial decisions.

  55. Technology companies, like Google and Facebook, have become arms of the political Left. Their management with the consent of the majority of their employees, have made a concerted effort to use the free speech and private property rights afforded to them in order to destroy their political enemies. As such, they forfeit any legal protections and are therefore enemies of the United States. Stripping them of their Section 230 immunity, calling their CEO's before Congress for questioning and investigating them for antitrust violations, and even forcing them to carry content they disapprove of is the appropriate retaliation for their participating in the Left's war against the United States and the civilized world. If they love Communism so much, then they should relocate to Cuba, Venezula, or China. Otherwise the tech companies in question should be shown no mercy for being part of the Left's political machine.

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