In a debate with Democrat Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., went after big social media censorship, suggesting that it’s time to strip companies like Facebook and Twitter of their protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996.
“Right now, big tech enjoys an immunity from liability on the assumption they would be neutral and fair,” Cruz said during Tuesday’s debate. “If they’re not going to be neutral and fair, if they’re going to be biased, we should repeal the immunity from liability so they should be liable like the rest of us.”
An article at Fast Company noted:
This is a clear reference the Section 230, a provision in the 1996 Communications Decency Act that promises safe harbor protections for technology platforms from the content posted on them. It’s a landmark law, one that has dictated how the internet has evolved. Because online platforms were not held liable for third-party content posted on their sites, digital companies were able to grow to the behemoths they are today; think what would happen if businesses could sue Yelp for someone posting a one-star review. While it certainly paved the way for the internet we know and love today, Section 230 is also what protected sites like Reddit and 4chan from cracking down on hateful content.
For decades, technology companies have made sure that Section 230 remains preserved, as their entire business models rely on it. Facebook and Google sell ads because users are posting online–and the companies are not liable for what these people say. Cruz referencing that he supports repealing the law will surely send shivers down many a CEO’s spine.
Already, Section 230 is being slowly chipped away at. The newly passed Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) carves out exceptions for Section 230 when the content involves sex trafficking or prostitution. This has already had an impact on websites before considered to be neutral platforms. Were Congress to take things further, as Cruz referenced last night, the effect would be even bigger.
As we and others have reported, Facebook, the social media giant dubbed “Iron FistBook” by political cartoonist A.F. Branco, yanked over 800 pages and accounts, claiming violations of the company’s nebulous standards on spam and “behavior.” Many of those pages turned out to be either conservative in nature or tied to conservative blogs like this one.
Additionally, Facebook has made it more difficult for right-of-center sites and pages to share information. In the last few hours, we were contacted by at least two individuals who said they were banned for allegedly posting items and links “too fast.”
Responding to the Kristallnacht-style purge of conservative pages and accounts, Brian Kolfage, a triple amputee veteran who runs Right Wing News — one of the pages torn down by Facebook — started a new site dedicated to the fight for free online speech. Additionally, a GoFundMe campaign has been started to raise funds to help facilitate possible legal action against Facebook.
The campaign states, in part:
The money donated will help Fight4FreeSpeech.com:
– Hire a KILLER legal team to combat this blatant showcase of bias toward free speech
– Ensuring we can continue to find all cases of liberal media bias and report it back to YOU
Here’s video of the exchange as posted to Twitter:
-Ted Cruz proposes repealing the immunity of liability that social media companies enjoy if they’re going to continue to be politically biased instead of being neutral and fair. pic.twitter.com/VthmHtJ2Ax
— The British Perspective ???????? (@ABritperspect) October 17, 2018
- The purge continues: Facebook yanks pro-Trump page after saying harmless anti-Pelosi meme violates rules
- Facebook Fascism — Meddling in the Elections
- Going Nowhere Fast: Pushing the Facebook Appeal Button
- Clash Daily’s Doug Giles shreds Facebook over digital Kristallnacht, accuses social media giant of lying — Video
- Page supporting veterans with PTSD wiped out in Facebook’s online Kristallnacht-style purge
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