US Senators bid to amend Section 230 to censor social media

A couple of Democrat Senators want to make social media companies liable for public health ‘misinformation’ on their platforms.

We have long argued that Section 230 needs reforming as, in its current form, it grants social media giants all the editorial privileges of a publisher with none of the liability. This initiative, however, which seeks to amend Section 230 such that certain types of subject matter from its protection, is a great example of exactly the wrong type of reform.

“The Health Misinformation Act would create an exception to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act’s liability shield for platforms with algorithms that promote health-related misinformation related to an existing public health emergency, as declared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS),” says the announcement of the proposed bill. “The legislation directs HHS to issue guidelines as to what constitutes health misinformation.”

In other words, it grants a single politician the power to censor the internet over matters of ‘health misinformation’. Giving any politician such power is clearly ludicrous, with even partisan commentators concerned about setting a precedent that could be exploited when the other team is in charge.

“For far too long, online platforms have not done enough to protect the health of Americans,” said Amy Klobuchar, one of the Senators proposing the ammendment. “These are some of the biggest, richest companies in the world and they must do more to prevent the spread of deadly vaccine misinformation. This legislation will hold online platforms accountable for the spread of health-related misinformation. The coronavirus pandemic has shown us how lethal misinformation can be and it is our responsibility to take action.”

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube did little while COVID-19 related misinformation spread on their platforms – fueling distrust in public health officials, promoting conspiracy theories, and putting lives at risk,” said Ben Ray Luján, the other one. “Online platforms must stop the spread of deadly misinformation, and I’m proud to introduce this legislation with Senator Klobuchar to hold these companies accountable. As COVID-19 cases rise among the unvaccinated, so has the amount of misinformation surrounding vaccines on social media. Lives are at stake.”

Misinformation is the term of choice used by would-be censors these days. It’s perfect for the task as it’s entirely subjective, with the censor alone determining what is or isn’t misinformation. For example, given their political allegiance, Klobuchar and Luján would presumably not determine President Biden’s recent statement that “you’re not going to get Covid if you have these vaccinations,” to be misinformation.

A precedent like this would also represent a thin end of the wedge, in which other forms of ‘harmful’ speech could be censored in future. While this could well be part of a broader Democrat strategy to control the internet, it’s also consistent with an international movement in which politicians try to put the social media genie back in the bottle. Like all of them, this initiative deserves to be mocked, derided and rejected out of hand.

One comment

  1. Avatar vod kanockers 23/07/2021 @ 5:04 pm

    funny how all the comments come from what appear to be QAnon, extremist right-wing republicans with the usual don’t tread on me mentality…the same ones who seem to think the 2nd amendment gives them the right to own jeep-mounted 50 cal machine guns. Wouldn’t it be nice if all these extremists found a country to move to and then they can do whatever they like, have no rules or regulations whatever, and act totally without regard to anyone else or how it affects the public good..

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