Section 230: Trump attacks law protecting Facebook and Twitter
You may have never heard of it, but Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is the legal backbone of the internet. The law was created almost 30 years ago to protect internet platforms from liability for many of the things third parties say or do on them. And now it’s under threat by one of its biggest beneficiaries: President Trump, who hopes to use it to fight back against the social media platforms he believes are unfairly censoring him and other conservative voices.
Section 230 says that internet platforms that host third-party content — think of tweets on Twitter, posts on Facebook, photos on Instagram, reviews on Yelp, or a news outlet’s reader comments — are not liable for what those third parties post (with a few exceptions). For instance, if a Yelp reviewer were to post something defamatory about a business, the business could sue the reviewer for libel, but it couldn’t sue Yelp. Without Section 230’s protections, the internet as we know it today would not exist. If the law were taken away, many websites driven by user-generated content would likely go dark.
The gravity of the situation might be lost on the president. Trump is using this threat to bully social media platforms like Twitter into letting him post whatever he wants after Twitter put a warning label that links to a fact-checking site on two of his recent tweets. To illustrate why there’s much more at stake than Trump’s tweets, here’s a look at how ...
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