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Can tech giants be forced to abide by Section 230?



Can tech giants be forced to abide by Section 230

The short answer is, “yes.”

The longer answer is a look at the things that would be required for this to happen. Right now, there is no attempt by tech companies to do as they’re mandated under Section 230, which was designed to protect content platforms from liability. They look at it with a wink and tell users they’re doing right by it, yet the purging, censoring, and silencing of conservatives continues. So, what are the requirements to make tech companies abide by 230? Here’s a short list.

  • Make more people aware of what’s entailed in Section 230 (or, to be more accurate, get the people to know that 230 even exists)
  • Build a case that demonstrates why companies like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube enjoy protections as platforms while acting as publishers
  • Attack the tech companies on multiple fronts ranging from digital grassroots efforts to pushing for threats to come from DC for non-compliance

Let’s break them down:

What is Section 230?

Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act protects digital properties from civil lawsuits when they’re operated as platforms. Users of a wide variety of websites post content, and Section 230 removes liability from these platforms based on the content they’re users provide. If someone Tweets a lie about your business that detrimentally affects it, you can’t sue Twitter as a result. They’re a platform, not a publisher.

This is an extremely important freedom that enables the internet to be an open and vibrant method of expression. It’s a free speech enabler, so much so that many on the left have called for Section 230 to be revamped to force websites to better censor their users’ content. But the protections allowed for platforms is extremely important as any restrictions would adversely affect our ability to express ourselves online. Censorship would become mandatory. There is absolutely no need for increased censorship on platforms because it allows the users to self-police it appropriately and relieves an extreme and unnecessary burden the left would want to impose on the tech companies.

But there’s a different problem with Section 230 that must be addressed. Tech companies essentially get to have the best of both worlds. They enjoy the freedoms of being a platform that empowers them to be free speech beacons, but many, particularly the giants listed above, have taken the role of self-policing to draconian levels of exerted bias. Leaders and employees at these companies are generally progressive and their ideology has been allowed to taint their moderating practices. It’s been demonstrated time and again that they’re acting as publishers, not platforms, by targeting conservatives for censorship while ignoring identical content styles that tilt progressive. As my colleague noted, they know this and don’t care.

Big tech has transitioned from ‘we don’t censor conservatives’ to ‘we do and you can’t stop us’

In the past, I’ve been opposed to the idea of declawing these companies by taking away their protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which denotes them as platforms that are not liable for the content their users post. But this protection comes with the caveat that they not act as publishers who expand their belief system through the platforms through the aforementioned purging, silencing, and censoring techniques. Since that’s not the case and possibly never was, this protection must be removed immediately.

If they’re going to censor based on their sensibilities as publishers, then they are not truly platforms and must not be granted protections true platforms receive. It’s time to spank them for the bad things they do. Otherwise, America may be lost.

I’m not inclined to agree that the protections must be removed immediately, but I do agree this conversation needs to be elevated to the point that the threat of removal of platform protection must be a tangible possibility.

Building the case

Project Veritas, PrageU, and others have been accumulating evidence that big tech is generally not acting in the spirit of their status as platforms. It may be impossible for them to be truly neutral, as should be the hope for all open forums. But today, it’s evident these companies are so blatantly protective of progressive thoughts while militantly opposed to conservative thoughts that building the case will be easy. It’ll take time and effort because the offenses are so rampant, but it won’t be difficult. On any given day, the silencing is violently apparent.

To understand what we need in order to accomplish this, we have to understand the nature of the post-truth society these tech companies are building. Post-modernism established that there is no absolute truth, and as bad as that concept was, the subsequent embrace of post-truth ideologies is even more dangerous. In essence, there is only personal truth in a post-truth society, even if that personal truth contradicts demonstrable reality. And big tech is all on-board for this.

For example, one of the fastest ways to get banned on Twitter or Facebook is to call a man who identifies as a woman by their actual biological gender. Think about that. If a man claims he’s a woman, he is telling a lie. But it’s an acceptable lie because it becomes “her” truth that “she’s” a woman. But if we see and hear this man and say he’s clearly a man, our objective truth is superseded by “her” personal truth. We get banned for telling… the truth.

That’s a post-truth society in its Newspeak Orwellian nutshell. This is what big tech wants.

In politics, we see it in the reversal of bigotry. You have a greater chance of being banned for calling someone a racist when they say, “white people suck,” than the person who made the racist statement in the first place. I recently received a warning from a Twitter “insider” (not from Twitter itself) for calling out an insult wrapped in lies about Beto O’Rourke. It’s clearly fake and prompted my response of “LOL,” but it exemplifies the power progressives feel they have on these platforms.

Fake Twitter Insider

Here’s the Tweet that was so “offensive”:

If we comprehend what constitutes big tech’s mentality when it comes to censorship, it becomes easier to expose. At that point, the question becomes, “why are they doing it now?” The answer is obvious. If you imagine a consortium of big tech leaders meeting in private following the 2016 election to decide how they’re going to take down President Trump or at least prevent his reelection, your imagination probably isn’t far off from the truth. It’s no longer a conspiracy theory that big tech is openly opposed to conservatives, Republicans, and President Trump. They wear their hatred on their digital sleeves now.

This is all about 2020, which is why we must act quickly. But how do we act?

Multiple fronts

As a participant in multiple groups working through the various big tech “platforms” to plot courses of action to address the problem, I hear many ideas. Some are great. Most are futile. Some are downright bad. But the few good ones are worth pursuing.

First, we need to keep calling out big tech for the anti-conservative bias and expose their users to the realities of their platform of choice. This is important because without awareness of the problem, all other attempts at solutions are moot.

Second, we should be looking at alternatives. Nothing drives fear in corporations like viable competition. I may not be ready to dump Twitter yet, but there are emerging platforms. To say they’re too small to compete demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of America. Facebook was too small to compete against MySpace in the beginning. Many of these new platforms will fail, perhaps even all of them. But it’s important to give them a fighting chance.

Third, we need to be aggressive and not post in fear. Shadowbanning and outright banning has made many conservatives gun shy. We’re being pushed into the shadows, just as big tech wants it. But we have size on our side; there are too many conservatives in America to silence us all. As we discuss Section 230 and censorship in general, we must do so without fear. If they ban us for it, we find ways to fight even harder. Being a “digital martyr” has empowered people like Laura Loomer to the point her message is more widespread now than before she was deplatformed.

Lastly, there’s the political angle. This is a dangerous part of the battle. How often does government try to “fix” something, only to make it worse? But they have the power to enforce Section 230 and give big tech a choice: Play fair or lose protections.

This isn’t about conservative supremacy. Our goal is balance. Our goal is fairness. Speech that is not illegal should not be grounds for being purged, period. These platforms set rules to self-police, but they enforce these rules selectively. If DC steps in and threatens to remove Section 230 protections unless they honor their own rules fairly, it will be a step towards the equal footing we need.

I’ll leave you with this thought:

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

American Conservative Movement