No Blanket Protection for Internet Platforms – The Wall Street Journal

Posted: January 5, 2021 at 2:24 pm

Jan. 4, 2021 11:57 am ET

I agree with Rick White that Laws Governing Online Speech Need Reform, Not Repeal (op-ed, Dec. 23). Outright repeal of Section 230, which grants immunity from liability to internet platforms for content posted on their sites by third parties, would prompt even more censorship. The social-media companies would try to protect themselves from litigation over all kinds of potentially offensive or illegal content that users post.

Since the First Amendment is a well-litigated line between permissible and impermissible speech consistent with the values of a free society, it offers the best solution for regulating the social-media companies. The government should condition the grant of immunity under Section 230 on a pledge from the platforms not to censor third-party content unless it falls outside the protections of the First Amendment, such as libel, threats to overthrow the government, direct threats of physical violence and certain types of indecent material. Censoring hate speech or content suspected of originating with hackers couldnt meet this standard because such speech is within the protection of the First Amendment. Any internet provider that refused to adopt this policy would lose the protections of Section 230 entirely.

Robert Goodfriend

Dallas

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No Blanket Protection for Internet Platforms - The Wall Street Journal

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