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Commentary: Trump’s latest attack on Section 230 is really about censoring speech

"Trump’s latest attack on Section 230 is really about censoring speech," 9 September 2020

One aspect of the 2020 presidential campaign that isn’t much discussed is the fact that both candidates want to end the internet as we know it. Both President Trump and Joe Biden have called for the end of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects tech companies in most cases when their users post something illegal on their platforms... The reason Twitter (usually) leaves phony pictures ... up is that the United States permits its citizens to speak freely about politicians — even to say mean things about them. Repealing Section 230 ... might ... make Twitter legally liable for what its users post — which would lead the company to remove more speech, not less.

... Paul Barrett at the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights looks at the origins and evolution of Section 230, evaluates both partisan and nonpartisan critiques, and offers a handful of solutions... To me there are two key takeaways from the report. One is that there are genuine, good-faith reasons to call for Section 230 reform... [such as] that Section 230 has allowed platforms to under-invest in content moderation... and the cost of the resulting externalities has been borne by society at large ...Recommendation algorithms are the core difference between the big tech platforms and the open web that they have largely supplanted, and the world has a vested interest in understanding how they work and what results from their suggestions.

... Barrett’s other suggestion is a kind of “digital regulatory agency” whose functions would mimic some combination of the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and similar agencies in other countries...

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