After the January 6 insurrection social media companies refused to allow Donald Trump to use their platforms to organize insurrections. Trump, of course, was furious.
The Department of Justice intervened in former President Donald Trump's lawsuit against Facebook to defend the constitutionality of Section 230, an internet communications law, according to court filings.https://t.co/EuCXPmnm13
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) November 22, 2021
Inciting an insurrection is only one of the things that got him in trouble on social media. No matter how many times Trump tried to lie about the pandemic, social media companies fact-checked him, refusing to allow him to spread lies about a virus that has, at this time, killed more than 700,000 Americans. Being fact-checked made Trump angry, and he lashed out in pressers and by suing companies like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to end Section 230 laws that protect those companies. The Justice Department under Biden is defending those laws.
According to USA Today:
‘In July, Trump sued Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for suspending his accounts after posts he made during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
‘Trump brought the case in Southern Florida; the technology firms have countered, arguing the case must be brought in Northern California, where each of the platforms is based. A judge ruled the case must be moved to that jurisdiction, though the motion is still pending.’
DOJ intervenes in Trump v. Twitter to defend the constitutionality of Section 230: https://t.co/AslkshUiRY
— Ari Cohn (@AriCohn) November 18, 2021
Although Joe Biden has also called for an end to Section 230, it hasn’t been on behalf of himself and his own social media accounts. Whether or not Biden or Trump or anyone else believes that Section 230 laws are fair, the Justice Department “has an ‘unconditional right to intervene to defend the statute,’ as it is always allowed in cases in which a law’s constitutionality is at issue.”
‘Section 230 is a subsection of the 1996 Communications and Decency Act that undergirds much of how social media operates in the U.S. The policy holds that websites are not liable for the content posted to their platforms, a principle that fueled the rise of modern social media.
‘The principle has come under scrutiny in recent years amid growing criticism of the technology industry across the political spectrum. Conservative activists and politicians hold that Section 230 unfairly shields social media platforms from culpability in cases when they moderate content. That leads to claims of censorship from conservatives.’
Section 230 has been US law for 25 years, and it's appropriate that Biden's DOJ is defending it. Trump's absurd case is also a reminder of how 230 *enables* sites to moderate hate & lies. It makes the Internet healthier. https://t.co/0qS2Jadh3c
— Adam Kovacevich (@adamkovac) November 19, 2021
While social media companies should be held to account when they ignore the dangers of their platforms to the individuals who use it, they should also have the right, just as any company does, to keep users safe from lies and disinformation.
‘Big Tech companies counter that ending Section 230 outright would create worse social media platforms and, in some cases, force them to suspend service altogether.
‘Industry groups that represent Big Tech in Washington have called for updated regulations but often decline to go into further detail on what policies are most favored by technology platforms.’
— The Hill (@thehill) November 22, 2021