Don't mistake moderators for censors
Section 230 is "essential to having sites that feature comments from users," First Amendment lawyer Ken White explained in a Friday post on his Substack site. "And people are absolutely flat-out lying to you about what it says, and what it means, for political advantage."
Repealing Section 230 wouldn't require moderators to treat conservative and liberal speech the same. It would make it easier to sue websites for user content that's alleged to be libelous or defamatory. To limit their liability, companies would be more likely to scrub controversial postings from across the political spectrum.
For Facebook foes, the crusade is counterintuitive. Gutting protections for third-party content would cement social media monopolies through regulatory capture. Tech titans can afford armies of moderators and lawyers to police user content. Upstart competitors with fewer resources can't duplicate that strategy.
Trump's tweak may target Goliaths, but it would devastate Davids. If your local newspaper or favorite blog or message board could be hauled into court over user content, it's likely to turn off the commenting feature altogether.
Online communities will suffer as dialogues become monologues. If online publishing platforms are forced to take responsibility for others' words, most people will have to build, host and maintain their own websites in order to share ideas, making the consumer internet far less democratic.
Those who feel Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and their ilk are biased would be better off voting with their feet. Friendster and MySpace once ruled the roost and are now consigned to the digital dustbin. Instead of trying to bend Big Tech to your will, build a better mousetrap.
It's also worth considering the law of unintended consequences. The Hunter Biden story went viral despite Facebook's and Twitter's best efforts. When moderators blocked links to the New York Post website, users shared screen shots and memes edited to reference the piece. Dozens of news outlets covered the backlash and referenced the Post's reporting.
Big Tech amplified what it wished to silence, and that's a natural risk of trying to suppress information. If Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey are reading this, please ban my column from your platforms. I could use the free publicity.
Corey Friedman is an opinion journalist who explores solutions to political conflicts from an independent perspective. Follow him on Twitter @coreywrites. To find out more about Corey Friedman and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.Copyright 2020 Creators Syndicate Inc.