Consumers Lose if Congress Makes Businesses Liable For Everyone’s Internet Posts

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Even amid Washington gridlock, one thing almost everyone seems to agree on is that the way companies moderate online content that makes people mad, and that the law shielding companies from liability over user-posted content must change. The question everyone should ask is: What would that change mean for consumers across the country?

Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act was passed to clarify the question of who should be responsible for what people post online. The author of the post is legally responsible, not the platform that hosts the post. Section 230 empowers platforms like Facebook and Twitter to make their own rules about what third-party content is allowed and lets them keep their legal protection even if they hide or remove posts. The law makes it safe for platforms to host pictures, comment sections, and customer reviews without being hauled into court every time someone objects. If you leave a bad review, VRBO or Yelp doesn’t have to worry about being sued if a spurned business owner claims the review is false, for example.

Section 230 has allowed consumers to benefit from an increased connection with others online, more speech online, and better information about products and services.

But those benefits are at risk as lawmakers in both political parties seek to repeal or curtail Section 230. Today, some on the left complain Section 230 makes it too easy for platforms to leave up “dangerous” misinformation, and they want platforms to remove more of that third-party content. Meanwhile, many on the right think that platforms discriminate against conservative content and want platforms to remove less user-generated content.

Where are consumers in this political tug-of-war? Repealing Section 230 would harm internet consumers by curtailing the availability of useful services like social media posts, comment sections, and customer reviews and by allowing more unwanted material online.

Read the full article at Inside Sources.