Last year, Biden called for Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to be revoked. The law, which Biden voted for in 1996, protects interactive computer services from being held liable for the vast majority of third party content. In recent years, the law has become a popular target of conservative lawmakers, who allege that the largest social media companies implement content moderation policies that stifle conservative speech. Biden and some other members of the Democratic Party have different concerns.
Biden cited online misinformation as motivating his call for Section 230 repeal, "There is no editorial impact at all on Facebook. None. None whatsoever. It’s irresponsible. It’s totally irresponsible." Bruce Reed, Biden’s chief of staff from 2011 to 2013 and current deputy White House chief of staff, has expressed concerns about Section 230, noting that the law "hurts our kids and is doing possibly irreparable damage to our democracy."
Harris supported the most recent amendment to Section 230, The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) and Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) package. SESTA/FOSTA added content associated with sex trafficking to the list of Section 230 exceptions. While no doubt well-intended, the law resulted in harmful unintended consequences.
When considering Section 230 amendments as a means to address the harms associated with online speech White House officials and their allies in Congress should proceed with caution. Section 230 may look like a tempting target for amendment, but changes to Section 230 will not eliminate harmful content and may entrench market incumbents.Read the rest of this post →