Would Josh Hawley’s Big Tech Crackdown Help Or Hurt Conservatives?

The Daily Caller | 6/28/2019 | Staff
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When Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley proposed punishing Silicon Valley for its censorship of conservatives, many on the right hated his plan.

Hawley’s bill centers on changing a small section of law that has governed the way individual Americans and corporations have thought about the internet for decades: Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. Specifically, Section 230 mandates that tech companies not be held responsible for third-party content and allows those companies to moderate that third-party content as they see fit, without fear of retaliatory lawsuits.

Facebook - Content - Users - Post - Daily

This means Facebook cannot be sued for the content its users post, and the Daily Caller cannot be held liable for deleting comments from its readers. Hawley argues tech companies have abused this power, using it to carve out users who don’t align with companies’ political agendas.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a joint hearing of the US Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee.

Media - Figures - Distinction - Publisher - Platform

Conservative media figures have long pointed to a legal distinction between a “publisher” and a “platform” in the tech world. In this dichotomy, publishers can be sued for the content they publish because it represents the views of the company, but platforms cannot be sued for the content on their sites because they aren’t responsible for the views of their users. Once a company like Facebook or YouTube starts to moderate their site with an obvious political slant, the argument goes, they have become a publisher and should lose their immunity.

This is a misrepresentation of Section 230, however, which makes no distinctions between platforms and publishers and only grants a blanket authority for tech companies to delete third-party content and ban users. In fact, tech companies can only be sued for content they produced.

Provider - User - Computer - Service

“No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be...
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