Tucker Carlson’s Attack on Section 230 Could Harm Conservative Voices Online

Carl Szabo
Dec 5, 2018 · 3 min read
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After recent segments about “Tech Tyranny”, its evident Tucker Carlson has made it his mission to go after online platforms like social media. Carlson’s latest attack came from a segment featuring Sen-Elect, Josh Hawley of Missouri where the two discussed the “sweet deal” online platforms like Yelp and GoFundMe get from the government.

This “sweet deal” they’re referring to is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Rather than being a “deal”, Section 230 is a bipartisan acknowledgement that social media platforms are very different from traditional media outlets, like newspapers and cable television.

Section 230 enables platforms to moderate user posts without becoming liable for every single piece of content posted.

As a result, online platforms — even if they moderate content to remove things such as pornography — are not treated as the publisher. Rather, they are treated as what they are — a platform.

This limit on liability allows social media to flourish. If someone was to make a libelous post on their social media account, the poster is held responsible — not the social media platform.

At the end of the day, it’s about personal responsibility. If I make a post, , not someone else, regardless of whether that someone else is an online platform.

Carlson also seems to miss the vital part Section 230 plays in creating the online world we use and allowing America to be the leader in technology.

Section 230 has enabled online platforms like GoFundMe, Patreon, and Change.org to exist. Businesses like Google and Facebook are some of the most successful businesses in the world. The reason these businesses are American is because of Section 230, which at its heart represents the American value of personal responsibility.

Had Section 230 never existed, America would not be the tech leader it is today. While Carlson may not like America’s biggest tech companies, surely, he would prefer they be the tech leaders of today, rather than their Chinese counterparts.

Conservatives shouldn’t see Section 230 as a necessary evil that benefits the U.S. economy at the expense of conservative speech online. The truth is to the contrary. Conservative speech has never been more empowered than in the era of social media.

Traditional outlets, like the Washington Post, the New York Times, and CNN may have been able to ignore conservative voices before the eruption of user-generated content, reliant on Section 230.

Today, conservative firebrands like Ben Shapiro, Charlie Kirk, and Candace Owens have millions of followers on social media, and whether traditional media tries to ignores them, these figures are having an impact.

Indeed, President Trump benefited greatly from the social media age. During the 2016 Presidential race, Trump used his twitter account to force traditional media to pay him attention even when they didn’t want to.

If government removes Section 230, online platforms would be so impaired that we could return to the age where big traditional media outlets decide who does and doesn’t get a national platform. In that future, conservative speech and America’s position as the global leader in tech would surely be in peril.

We can’t blame Carlson for pushing policies that would likely help his TV show, but conservatives must stick to their principles and steer clear of any policy that would hinder the future of their movement.

NetChoice

The home on Medium for all things NetChoice.

Carl Szabo

Written by

Tech and Privacy Attorney specializing in federal, state, and international legislation and tech issues.

NetChoice

NetChoice

The home on Medium for all things NetChoice. Here, we publish opinion pieces on issues that we cover — fighting to break down barriers to e-commerce.

Carl Szabo

Written by

Tech and Privacy Attorney specializing in federal, state, and international legislation and tech issues.

NetChoice

NetChoice

The home on Medium for all things NetChoice. Here, we publish opinion pieces on issues that we cover — fighting to break down barriers to e-commerce.

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