Trump Regime

DOJ Proposes Internet Immunity Changes That Will Backfire

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

There's nothing that anyone loves more than Republicans love portraying themselves as victims and a significant portion of their modern movement and philosophy is centered around the idea that they've been censored by "cancel culture" and even by internet companies.

To that end, some Republican lawmakers in Congress have now been joined by Trump's puppet Justice Department which has released a legislative proposal that would partially roll back immunity for internet companies.

Social media companies cannot be held responsible for illegal content posted by their users, for example, as long as the company removes the offending material. But Republicans now want to fiddle with the law so they can sneak in provisions making it more difficult to remove content that is ethically or morally dubious if not illegal.

The Justice Department proposal primarily states that when internet companies “willfully distribute illegal material or moderate content in bad faith, Section 230 should not shield them from the consequences of their actions.”

It proposes a series of reforms to ensure internet companies are transparent about their decisions when removing content and when they should be held responsible for speech they modify. It also revises existing definitions of Section 230 with more concrete language that offers more guidance to users and courts.

The obvious goal is to make it more difficult to legally remove dubious content that is primarily shared by conservatives such as conspiracy theories surrounding recent wildfires in the west, for example, but this would actually backfire and lead to even more moderation.

If a social media platform could be held legally liable for content posted on their service, and if they're simultaneously prohibited from moderating speech, the end result would be more zero-strikes blanket moderation that would see more people permanently banned from the platform.

I don't know if Republicans simply misunderstand the current law, or if they don't understand these changes would increase their perceived "censorship," but in any case the result would be the same.

There are legions of users who share all manager of ridiculous things who are only permitted to do so because it's not illegal and it makes money for the platform they're using. If it becomes illegal or if it costs the platform money in legal fees, those users will be banned.

A whole lot of people would be "canceled" under these changes.

  • muselet

    In a sane universe, we could count on the courts to slap this proposal down as the nonsense it so clearly is.

    Alas, we do not live in a sane universe.

    How is a social media company supposed to both not “willfully distribute illegal material” and simultaneously not “moderate content in bad faith”? And I’m willing to wager a big pile of internet money that no one in the Department of Justice has bothered to take a crack at defining “bad faith” in this context.

    Rs whingeing about their perennial victimhood got tiresome fifty years ago (yes, it’s been going on that long, kids).

    –alopecia