Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is probably the worst-understood - and most important - internet regulations, and the confusion's only gotten worse since Trump signed a legally incoherent executive order purporting to reform it.


Under CDA 230, responsibility for bad speech acts (libel, obscenity, etc) rests on the speaker, not the host. FB isn't legally responsible for what its users post, but it IS responsible for what its employees and execs post.

A bunch of well-meaning people who hate things that I hate - racism, harassment, etc - have been calling for CDA 230 reform to fight this. I think they're well-intentioned, but dangerously wrong.


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Big Tech is terrible at moderation. Forcing them to do more will not make them better at it. Instead, we'll get more kangaroo courts, powerful people who hire moderation-policy experts can silence their victims while harassing them with impunity.


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Right on cue, far-right assholes have weaponized the right's victim-complex to join forces with progressives who want to dismantle CDA 230, in a bid to force a "fairness doctrine" on tech companies that will favor whoever has the most resources.

I get exhausted just thinking about this stupid, stupid stuff. But one person who's been absolutely rock-solid in handing out fact-based rebuttals to it is Mike Masnick.


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Now, he's posted "Hello! You've Been Referred Here Because You're Wrong About Section 230 Of The Communications Decency Act," which breaks down every one of the bad arguments made by CDA 230 opponents.

(It's a riff on Popehat's canonical "Hello! You've Been Referred Here Because You're Wrong About The First Amendment.)


Here's the myths Masnick busts:

* "Once a company like that starts moderating content, it's no longer a platform, but a publisher"

* "Because of Section 230, websites have no incentive to moderate!"

* "Section 230 is a massive gift to big tech!"

* "A site that has political bias is not neutral, and thus loses its Section 230 protections"

* "Section 230 requires all moderation to be in 'good faith' and this moderation is 'biased' so you don't get 230 protections"


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* "Section 230 is why there's hate speech online..."

* "Section 230 means these companies can never be sued!"

* "Section 230 is a get out of jail card for websites!"

* "Section 230 is why there's piracy online"

* "Section 230 gives websites blanket immunity!"

* "Section 230 is why big internet companies are so big!"

* "Section 230 was designed to encourage websites to be neutral common carriers"


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* "If all this stuff is actually protected by the 1st Amendment, then we can just get rid of Section 230"

Look, I get why you might have heard someone say this stuff and assumed they were right. Normally, reading statutes is a hard slog and we have to rely on experts to interpret the laws for us.


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But while there's a lot of caselaw around CDA 230 (Masnick's got links), the actual statute is remarkably short, punchy and clear. You can and should read it for yourself, ESPECIALLY if you're going to opine about what it means.


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