The Importance of Section 230

Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act plays an important role in internet pages and content that are published in the United States. After backlash from social media, President Donald Trump has mentioned that a revocation of the section could be taken into account, and the consequences could be dire.

According to a statement offered by Wikimedia’s senior director for public policy, many platforms would be forced to filter the content that is being posted by users before it will be published since the potential risks and issues caused by the content in question would be quite punishing.

A key phrase

A quick look will reveal that Section 230 consists of a single phrase, but the words which are contained in it are essential as it not notes that providers or users of an interactive computer service cannot be deemed to be the speaker or publisher of any information which comes from a different information provider.

The proposal and the act were approved in 1996 when the internet was still young, and user discussions took place on lesser-known bulletin boards instead of the shiny social media networks of today.

Essential traits

Two main attributes are tied to Section 230. It protects internet platforms and service providers from consequences associated with the content shared by users, with a few exceptions being available in the case content that can be deemed to be illegal. The second attribute is represented by automatic immunity if providers decide to edit or delete user-generated content.

Over the years, some have complained that tech companies and select platforms rely on the immunity provided by Section 230 to justify a bias that affects the way in which information is depicted since it is questionable to state that you are neutral when you have the liberty to filter and remove undesirable content. However, removing Section 230 would mean that many of the most popular websites on the internet would need to be closed down too.

Willie Hahn, senior editor at The Trending Times, writes about the intersection between money and politics with a focus on lobbying and tech articles. Willie previously at the Android Authority and Vice. Willie can be reached by email.

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