back to article Trump's overhaul of Section 230 stalls, Biden may just throw the web legal shield on the bonfire anyway

Section 230 – the liability shield that more or less prevents websites, such as Twitter and Facebook, from being sued in the US for their users’ content – is going to survive the Trump era despite furious last-ditch efforts by the President. On Monday, the FCC put out a “tentative” agenda for its January meeting that included …

  1. big_D Silver badge

    And...

    Section 230 – the liability shield that more or less prevents websites, such as Twitter and Facebook and the Register forums, from being sued in the US for their users’ content

    It doesn't just protect the big names, it protects any site, blog, forum etc. that allows users to comment.

    1. Jim Mitchell

      Re: And...

      If I recall correctly, pre-230, websites could also be protected from lawsuits if they did no moderation of user-generated content.

      1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

        Re: And...

        Pre-230, there were strong arguments on both sides. That comment section is only there because the news site's servers are providing it. There is no credible way to claim that the news site is not "publishing" the posts. The purpose of 230 was to provide legal clarity that publishing sans editing is protected. Okay. What about KP & terrorism? And so the fun began...

    2. Jaybus

      Re: And...

      Exactly. The liability shield is most definitely needed. It doesn't need to be excepted for certain companies, as Trump would have, or eliminated altogether as Biden has proposed. Note that Facebook is not responsible for what a user says, however that user is most definitely responsible and can be sued (or charged if it is a criminal act). Seems logical to me.

      1. Adelio Silver badge

        Re: And...

        AS I understand it FB, twitter ect can moderate their platforms anyway they want (I assume they have to be consistent). F.B could have a rule that no president can post on FB. Fine by me.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: And...

          I assume they have to be consistent

          You assume incorrectly.

          S.230 allows sites to moderate user-generated content (UGC) in any way they want. They can decline to publish posts by people with usernames that have an MD5 hash that ends in an odd number. They can decline to publish posts that use more than five words containing the letter Q. They can decline to publish posts that are critical of the site's founder. They can moderate any way they want.

          This is a Good Thing. Authors should hold the responsibility for the material they create.

          1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

            That TechDirt link

            Apropos of almost nothing, that TD article is one of the most reader hostile things I've seen in years. It's not written to educate anyone; it's written so that people can show off to others that they know something better than someone else.

            You don't teach people using the tone 'you're a f'king idiot'. Just my 2p.

            C.

    3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      What about e-mail?

      And Usenet, but that goes without saying. I still use it... Maybe you prefer Quora.

      E-mail... will the owner of a server be held responsible for the content on it? Will anyone provide the service under that condition?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: What about e-mail?

        >E-mail... will the owner of a server be held responsible for the content on it?

        How do you have a search engine if it is responsible for the veracity of any pages it returns.

        1. Nunyabiznes

          Re: What about e-mail?

          @YAAC

          Wasn't Google recently sued for not forgetting someone in Australia? Even though it was just a search return on content available on a website?

    4. Jonjonz

      Re: And...

      Tough luck, anytime anyone opens their pie whole, or jots down baloney via a keyboard, they should be liable for what they say. 230 basically negates all laws protecting society from the crimes of libel and disinformation.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: And...

        No, it protects the platform where the comment has been entered from being sued.

        It doesn't stop the individual from being sued, if they post libellous information.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: And...

        In the US, or any sensible society, "disinformation" is not a crime.

        Also in the US, the bar for slander and libel is much higher than in some repressive regimes (e.g. the UK). We get a great many things wrong, but that one at least we got right.

  2. WonkoTheSane
    Trollface

    Blame Devin Nunes

    He's the one who pushed this at Trump et al, just so he can sue an imaginary cow who hurt his feelings on Twitter.

    1. J27

      Re: Blame Devin Nunes

      Allegedly imaginary, that claim hasn't been tested in court.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Blame Devin Nunes

      Dude's the Orly Taitz of libel suits.

  3. Cereberus

    Missing the point

    I'm no fan of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.........

    Having said that I would agree that protections need to be in place, if for no other reason than to allow free speech whether in the good old(?) US of A or elsewhere. They could be modified to require more stringent reviewing and removing of posts that breech certain guidelines, but the Trump would need to permanently shut down all his media feeds until he could show he is able to actually behave like an adult and not a spoiled brat. The problem is Twitter et al are trying to do a reasonable job by not banning him, and just reporting his posts as being disputed by referring to fact checking info. For someone who lies more often than I speak that is a major stumbling block.

    Ultimately the best thing may not be Biden as President, but that will be sooooooo much better that trump having another 4 years with the constant lies and vitriol that comes out of his mouth and fingers. His whole thought process seems to be I said it so it is true. What do you mean you want proof? I just said it so it is de facto the truth. If you disagree you are fake news. I won the election because I said I did. I keep telling everybody about the large scale fraud, except in court hearings where I have to (or my lawyers speaking on my behalf) legally tell the truth so don't mention it there because they are complete bastards, all of them and will want us to show some kind of evidence. Why don't they just accept my word for it?

    It would be so much easier if Section 230 was repealed then I could say what I like and nobody could stop me in any way, and certainly not refer people to those lies others keep coming out with. What's the name for them again.............oh yeah now I remember - FACTS.

    Then because he has the backing of what appears to be the dumb and stupid of America he has the Republicans bowing down to him in case he says they are bad people and they lose their next election. The total lack of culpability is astounding in what self proclaims to be the greatest democracy in the world.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Missing the point

      I have to agree here. He's used the old maxim about "tell a lie often enough and it becomes truth". but the one that gets overlooked is "the first victim of war (or politics) is the truth". Reality is what one perceives as true and the last four years truth has been trampled.

      The last several months, the truth has been kicked to curb with all the claims of fraud and no evidence. Trump seems to admire dictators and from watching, many of his attacks and lies tell us more about who or what he thinks he is than what the Constitution says the President should be and do.

      Many of us fear for the Republic as the norms have changed, many broken and killed. Where we'll be in the coming years is hard to say. The US could recover and be restored or it could keep descending to the level of banana republic.

      I hope it recovers but that remains to be seen.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Keep descending ?

        You've practically arrived, my friend.

  4. Anon

    Dear Chief Justice of the USA...

    During the swearing-in ceremony, please point at Trump and say "You're fired!"

    1. Cereberus

      Re: Dear Chief Justice of the USA...

      It would be better if Mike Pence were to read out all the votes then look at Trump and say'

      That concludes the tally of votes, you're fired'

      1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Dear Chief Justice of the USA...

        (Opinion, not fact but visible behavior appears to support it...)

        Agreed, but Pence is too afraid of Trump to pull that kind of stunt.

        Trump wouldn't have picked a VP he couldn't keep reined in.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Dear Chief Justice of the USA...

          >Trump wouldn't have picked a VP he couldn't keep reined in.

          Trump didn't pick him. Bannon or Stone or some fixer at Breibart picked him to appeal to the God botherers

          If Trump had done the picking it would be VP Ivanka

    2. katrinab Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Dear Chief Justice of the USA...

      Could be a bit difficult if he is in an immigration detention centre in Prestwick, Scotland ...

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Dear Chief Justice of the USA...

        > in Prestwick,

        That sounds inhuman - can't he be extraordinarily rendition-ed to somewhere nicer ?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Presidential Medal of Freedom for Tucker Carlson

    Looks like Tucker Carlson will get a Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work exposing the Coronavirus hoax. All those "Radical Left Crisis Actors" pretending to die from the virus.... Tucker exposed those as the fraud they are.

    Well done Tucker, take your medal and wear it with pride. You did that. That's your work. Don't let that Laura Ingraham bimbo take credit, that medal is yours by right for all the work you did!

    Keep your Trump medal on the shelf and show it to everyone to impress them. Everyone.

  6. Alistair
    Windows

    Sect. 230, Devin, Tucker C, Donald, the lame duck and Ijit Pai

    Its a damn shame that we've lost so much of the Goons and Monty Python. That cast would make a *spectacular* comedy movie, based in perhaps, lower Moronia in the late 1500's or so.

    Presidential Medal of Freedom circa 2020 will like *never* be seen at auction as it will have a negative value.

    1. Jaybus

      Re: Sect. 230, Devin, Tucker C, Donald, the lame duck and Ijit Pai

      "Presidential Medal of Freedom circa 2020 will like *never* be seen at auction as it will have a negative value."

      Wrong.

      “If you nail two things together that have never been nailed together before, some schmuck will buy it from you.” – George Carlin

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sect. 230, Devin, Tucker C, Donald, the lame duck and Ijit Pai

        “If you nail two things together that have never been nailed together before, some schmuck will buy it from you.” – George Carlin

        Where can I get one?

  7. earl grey
    Flame

    Can't we for once just throw the policians all on a bonfire?

    Please, I'm not asking for much.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Can't we for once just throw the policians all on a bonfire?

      Fuck man! We're trying to PREVENT global warming, not increase it.

  8. HellDeskJockey

    I suspect that section 230 is safe for now. On the other hand there is a lot of censorship going on. I have a small blog and in my weekly announcements mentioned that we are going to be adding Parler to the social media streams. Merely mentioning Parler on Facebook got an immediate "This fact is disputed warning. Are you sure you want to post it." from Facebook. After verifying that yes I am going to post on Parler clicked yes I'm sure to post it. What makes this even more interesting is that Blog covers the Bible not politics. I generally discourage any political commentary on the blog.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      >that Blog covers the Bible

      The truth of this magic fairy story is disputed

      1. HellDeskJockey

        Indeed, and you are welcome to believe or not as you see fit. My concern is when platforms decide what is true or false and censor posts based on that. We should both be free to speak on these matters and many others.

        God gave me a mind, and I believe in using it. Don't care for censorship and slanted news in either direction.

    2. genghis_uk

      Feeling a bit like a stuck record here but... Moderation is not Censorship!!!

      o Moderation - where a site removes a post for not adhering to the site rules (they own the site so they set the rules, even if you do not agree with them). Feel free to post the same thing on a different site though

      o Censorship - where a Government makes it illegal to post something anywhere

      It is not even a small distinction but for some reason, people do not seem to get it

  9. Danny Boyd

    Section 230 should stay

    With cardinal amendment: "this section applies to information exchange platforms, which conduct no reviewing, policing, or censure of the users' data".

    Thus, Telegram, AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, etc. are still subjects to Section 230, and Facebook and Twitter are not.

    No need to drop Section 230 just because two or three "platforms" are not "platforms" in fact. Simply exclude them.

    Think: if a "platform" is policing the user data, how can it be held irresponsible of this data?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Section 230 should stay

      That was the reason for S230 in the first place.

      If Facebook / twitter etc removed one death threat or KP post they were suddenly a newspaper and responsible editorially for every post by all of their billions of users

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Great Blatherers days in power are numbered

    Soon, nobody will care what he says.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: The Great Blatherers days in power are numbered

      Except while they passed almost no laws during the last 4 years (except a massive tax cut) they did install a bunch of mental patients (*) who will have final say in laws are valid for the next 40 years.

      * - if I said that a voice in my head, filtered through the folk stories of a bunch of bronze age sheep molesters, told me what to think - you would put me away.

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