What is Section 230 and why do people want it repealed? | Summary and Q&A

January 3, 2021
60 Minutes
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What is Section 230 and why do people want it repealed?


Social media giants are targeted for the harmful effects of Section 230, which shields them from liability for user-generated content, enabling the spread of lies and online harassment.

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Key Insights

  • 🥺 Section 230 shields social media giants from legal liability, which has led to the spread of harmful content and online harassment.
  • 😌 Victims of online lies and harassment face significant challenges in seeking legal recourse due to the limitations imposed by Section 230.
  • 😑 Internet platforms need to balance the promotion of free expression with the responsibility of policing harmful content.
  • 🥹 The government may need to intervene to ensure social media platforms are held accountable for their role in enabling online harassment.
  • 🥹 The fight against online harassment requires a combination of legal action, public shaming, and advocacy to hold platforms accountable.
  • 🤙 The impact of Section 230 on social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Google is being questioned, with calls for its reform or revocation.
  • 🥶 Finding a solution to address the challenges posed by Section 230 is complex, requiring a balance between platform liability and protecting free speech.

Questions & Answers

Q: How did the Banasis become the target of death threats?

The Banasis were falsely accused of spreading COVID-19 in China, which led to a barrage of death threats and hate speech directed towards them and their family. The misinformation spread across multiple YouTube channels, totaling 70 videos.

Q: Why can't victims like the Banasis sue internet trolls or platforms under Section 230?

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects internet platforms from facing legal liability for user-generated content. This means that victims cannot sue individual trolls hiding behind aliases or the platforms themselves for the harm caused.

Q: How does Section 230 differ from the liability faced by traditional media outlets?

Section 230 recognizes the vast amount of content delivered on social media platforms, which makes it difficult to hold them liable for defamatory or harmful content. Unlike traditional media outlets like newspapers or TV networks, social media platforms have large volumes of user-generated content that they cannot monitor entirely.

Q: How has Lenny Posner fought against online harassment and lies?

Lenny Posner, a victim of online lies surrounding the Sandy Hook tragedy, has actively fought back against online harassment. He copyrighted photos of his son to control their usage and created the Honor Network, a non-profit organization that helps victims of online harassment navigate legal avenues to combat falsehoods.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The victims of online lies and harassment, including Matia and Matt Banasi, highlight the dangers of Section 230, which allows social media platforms to ignore harmful content.

  • The Banasis became the target of death threats and hate speech due to a COVID-19 hoax that falsely claimed Matia brought the virus to China.

  • Section 230 shields internet platforms from legal responsibility, making it challenging for victims like the Banasis to take legal action against internet trolls and platforms.

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