Repealing Section 230 Might Be the Best Idea Trump Ever Had
Donnie doesn’t realise how much he owes to this piece of legislation — perhaps we should let him repeal it.
On November 26, 2020, #DiaperDon started trending on Twitter following the President’s lashing out at a reporter during a press briefing. The weird set up, the tiny desk, and the presidential tantrum were all that was needed to create a new meme, and push the hashtag to the top of the trending lists in most English-speaking countries around the world.
Reacting to the jokes, Donald Trump tweeted:
Setting aside how pathetic the left tweet is, claiming Twitter would fake its trending topics and comparing the social network to Fox News, Trump used an oft-repeated argument of his and his supporters’, namely that conservative voices online are disproportionately discriminated against.
He followed it a few minutes later with a call to repeal Section 230 for national security purposes.
For those who might not be familiar with it, Section 230 is considered by many to be a foundation of the modern internet. Often dubbed “the 26 words that created the Internet,” Section 230(c)(1) of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 states:
No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.
This provisions guarantees that websites cannot be held liable for the content that their users share (barring exceptions for criminal content, or when the website itself can be considered an information provider), a key protection for all social media and user-generated-content websites.
Trump and his supporters have been pushing for years the narrative that conservative voices and opinions are unfairly and disproportionately censored online. While there is no evidence to back up these claims, it is a widespread belief in the US, “with 90% of Republicans believe[ing] social media sites censored political viewpoints. Some 59% of Democrats held the same view,” according to an August 2020 survey from Pew Research Center.
As the New York Times reported, “evidence of anti-conservative bias by platforms remains anecdotal.” The truth might even be the exact opposite. Lack of evidence has never stopped Donald Trump or the people who support him, however.
To curb this supposed bias, the Commander-in-Chief repeated his call to repeal the dreaded Section 230 (the worst example of corporate welfare he could think of, ignoring the $320B in corporate tax cuts he offered in 2017) on December 1, 2020. More specifically, Trump threatened to use his veto power over the NDAA if his wish wasn’t granted.
The indignation caused by his attempted blackmail brought back the Section into the spotlight, and one could read that President-Elect Biden also wants to do away with it.
Agreeing with Donald Trump is usually a bad sign, but in this specific case, for once, Trump might be right. We should accede to his demand and repeal Section 230, or at least amend it dramatically.
Twitter should have banned Trump ages ago for his repeated T&C violations, but they never did. Their lack of spine, his presidency, and the millions of advertising dollars he brings them must (certainly) have played a role in the decision-making process.
Repealing Section 230 would effectively destroy conservative communications online (bye-bye OANN, NewsMax, Parler, 4chan, Reddit r/conservative, and so on) and would take away from Trump and his supporters their ability to coordinate and spread their lies.
Repealing it would also impact many companies whose businesses rely on legitimate user-generated content that has nothing to do with politics (user reviews, comments, video sharing, …), but these companies could handle stricter moderation.
Social networks would face such a burden that banning would become the de facto reaction for term violation.
Would it be so terrible?