So, it appears that FCC Chairman Pai is going to be taking a closer look at Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in order to clarify it for the current environment we exist in, and in hopes that Congress will take up the issue as well, to make modifications to the law that would do the same.
although a little late, in my opinion (members of both parties have been calling for Congress to do something about what appears to be bias on some of these multinational giants including breaking them up. so I see a reinterpretation by the FCC of Section 230 a good start and may, in fact hekp Congress, most likely in the new year, to move quickly to place those changes and maybe some others, into law. Here’s Chairman Pai’s statement:
The last paragraph may be telling on what we may be seeing in the near future.
I’ve heard people of different ideologies complaining for years about how Google, Facebook, and Twitter, if they don’t like what’s been posted (not illegal content, BTW, just other opinions on possibly controversial topics) that the content has been taken down, or the user, on Twitter for instance, has been shadow-banned, a practice I don’t hear much about anymore, but for a few years it was the talk of the Internet. We’ve all either witnessed or read stories about YouTube taking down videos on controversial topics or otherwise de-monetizing them so that the creator doesn’t receive any advertising money for their work.
When first proposed and passed into law, (196) Section 230 was probably a good idea. the whole reason for the Communications Decency Act was to limit pornographic content on the Internet, most importantly, child pornography. But platform providers didn’t want to be able to be held liable if a user posted something illegal on their site which, of course, they shouldn’t. Therefore, Section 230, which gave blanket immunity to these platforms as long as they were platforms and not publishers of content (like a newspaper or T.V./Radio Station).
More and more though, by making decisions on what content would be allowed (political, social) these same have become no different than The New York Times or NBC News. These companies make editorial decisions about what will be published in their pages and broadcast on their network. They are free to carry any story or not, but if they get it wrong, and it can be shown they knew they had it wrong, they can pay a price – be sued. Think of the Covington Catholic story. CNN and the Washington Post have already settled defamation cases. Maybe Big Tech will have to start considering what they may or may not do, based on how the FCC clarifies Section 230.
Suspend the NewYork Post Twitter account because you don’t like a story they’ve published? It requires “fact checking”? Better be ready to stand up in court and tell the world what it was that is wrong and oh, by the way, who did the fact checking. Just as any other publisher. Currently, it seems The Post is winning the public relations war, even from some that don’t believe their latest.
What will the new landscape look like? Will it go far enough to satisfy everyone or will there be complaints the FCC didn’t go far enough (there are always complaints). Also, if Donald Trump loses next month, will the new administration, with a new FCC, keep those rules in place or will they dump them? Will Congress, no matter who controls, enact these changes and others into law? We’re in wait-and-see mode now.