June 18, 2020
Does Content Moderation Need Changes to Section 230?
This week the Department of Justice and Senator Josh Hawley each released proposals to amend online platforms’ Section 230 liability protection. These proposals would make content moderation more difficult and hinder innovation, writes AAF’s Director of Technology and Innovation Policy Jennifer Huddleston. Any changes to Section 230 must be considered in a far broader context than just the tech giants, and policymakers should also recognize how this law has catalyzed free expression through decreasing liability concerns for platforms that depend on user-generated content over the last two decades, she notes.
Contrary to some arguments, Section 230 remains important not only for social media platforms but also for a wide variety of beneficial and innovative online resources. Beyond social media, information websites such as Medium and Wikipedia also rely on Section 230, as their content is generated by users. Review sites such as Yelp and home rental platforms such as Airbnb can also know that disputes over a bad review cannot lead to a defamation case against them thanks to Section 230. Even the comments sections on articles from major newspapers receive Section 230 protection. Changing Section 230 would have an impact on all of these beneficial uses, not just concerns about social media that critics often claim to be targeting.