• February 4, 2023

Small Sites Need Section 230 to Compete

Donald Trump and other politicians have urged Congress to repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act on several occasions. During the Lame Duck Congress, then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell even introduced a bill linking increased incentive payments to the repeal of Section 230.

You are rightly concerned about political prejudice and censorship by social media companies. A 2020 survey by Pew Research found that 75% of Americans (including most Conservatives and Liberals) believe that Facebook and Twitter censor political views. It is clear that social media must change before they destroy free speech, privacy and democracy. The problem is that repealing Section 230 would increase censorship and reduce competition, which is the real solution.

I’m the CEO of MeWe, a social network that competes directly with Facebook. We have millions of members, people of all political beliefs. Revoking Section 230 would do significant harm to smaller businesses like me and new startups that compete with the tech giants.

Section 230 was enacted in 1996 and is the piece of legislation protecting social media and web businesses large and small from liability for user-posted content. The law allows modest or financially funded startups to enter the market and compete with larger companies. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has named it “the premier law protecting Internet language”.

Those who want to get rid of Section 230 say doing so would discourage social networks and websites from unfairly censoring their users’ political comments. In reality, it would give them an incentive to censor much more aggressively. To protect themselves from being sued over content, they would remove anything that is remotely controversial. Users are constantly being spied on.

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Jack

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