Saturday, May 30, 2020

What is Section 230 and what does Trump’s order mean?

Getty Images; NY Post composite
President Donald Trump signed an executive order curtailing Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act on Thursday, directly challenging a law that protects tech giants like Twitter from being held liable for the content their users post, and how they moderate it.
The law, passed in 1996, was designed to prevent internet companies from being treated as publishers and was done in part to allow the internet to flourish.
It shields companies that can host trillions of messages, like Facebook and Twitter, from being sued by anyone who feels wronged by something someone else has posted.
Section 230 also allows social media platforms to moderate their content by removing posts that violate the services’ own standards, so long as they are acting in “good faith.”
But the story behind the landmark legislation — and how it became what opponents call a teflon shield for Big Tech — was born from the dust of a historic legal showdown that all started in a New York courtroom.
Where did Section 230 come from?
In the early 1990s, Stratton Oakmont — the infamous Wall Street brokerage depicted in the Martin Scorsese-Leonardo DiCaprio movie “Wolf of Wall Street” — sued the internet service provider Prodigy, an early internet company that hosted a popular bulletin board called “Money Talk.”
In October 1994, an anonymous user had slammed Stratton Oakmont and its president on the forum and accused them of criminal and fraudulent acts related to their initial public offering.
Stratton swiftly sued Prodigy for the “defamatory” statements in Long Island state Supreme Court and won in 1995 with appeals courts upholding the decision that Prodigy was liable for the statements, treating them as a publisher.
But the ruling was a major hit for the fledgling internet — which was just taking off and hosting no more than about 10,000 websites at the time — and many lawmakers feared it would allow the public to sue the commercial internet out of existence.

If you like what you see, please "Like" us on Facebook either here or here. Please follow us on Twitter here.

No comments: