Section 230 and online content moderation

So to Speak: The Free Speech PodcastEp. 216
Section 230 and online content moderation

Section 230 and online content moderation

Did 26 words from an American law passed in 1996 create the internet?

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act says that interactive websites and applications cannot be held legally liable for the content posted on their sites by their users. Without the law, it's likely Facebook, Amazon, Reddit, Yelp, and X wouldn't exist -- at least not in their current form. But some say the law shields large tech companies from liability for enabling, or even amplifying, harmful content.

On today's show, we discuss Section 230, recent efforts to reform it, and new proposals for content moderation on the internet.

Marshall Van Alstyne is a professor of information systems at Boston University.

Robert Corn-Revere is FIRE's chief counsel.

Timestamps

0:00 Intro 3:52 The origins of Section 230? 6:40 Section 230's "forgotten provision" 13:29 User vs. platform control over moderation 23:24 Harms allegedly enabled by Section 230 40:17 Solutions 46:03 Private market for moderation 1:02:42 Case study: Hunter Biden laptop story 1:09:19 "Duty of care" standard 1:17:49 The future of Section 230 1:20:35 Outro

Show Notes

- Show Transcript

- Hearing on a Legislative Proposal to Sunset Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (May 22. 2024)

- "Platform Revolution" by Marshall Van Alstyne

- "The Mind of the Censor and the Eye of the Beholder" by Robert Corn-Revere

- "Protocols, Not Platforms: A Technological Approach to Free Speech" by Mike Masnick

- "Sunset of Section 230 Would Force Big Tech's Hand" By Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Frank Pallone Jr.

- "Buy This Legislation or We'll Kill the Internet" By Christopher Cox and Ron Wyden

- "Free Speech, Platforms & The Fake News Problem" (2021) by Marshall Van Alstyne

- "Free Speech and the Fake News Problem" (2023) by Marshall Van Alstyne

- "It's Time to Update Section 230" by Michael D. Smith and Marshall Van Alstyne

"Now It's Harvard Business Review Getting Section 230 Very, Very Wrong" by Mike Masnick

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