Republicans pressure platforms with new 230 bill

Republicans pressure platforms with new 230 bill

A group of Senate Republicans introduced a new bill Tuesday aimed at chipping away some of the protections provided to social media companies through Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

The Online Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act, introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), would strip away the liability protection provided by Section 230 if a platform restricted access to content without providing specific rules that it violated. The bill would require platforms to have an “objectively reasonable belief” that content violated a specific policy in order for it to be removed, or they could be held liable for their moderation actions.

The bill would also amend language in the original law, changing vague terms like “objectionable” with “promoting terrorism” and “unlawful” as guidance for moderating content.

“Social media companies are routinely censoring content that to many, should be considered valid political speech,” Graham said in a statement Tuesday. “This reform proposal addresses the concerns of those who feel like their political views are being unfairly suppressed.”

In May, President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at upending Section 230. The order required the Federal Communications Commission to reinterpret the law. As of right now, the FCC is still seeking comment before it proceeds. After that executive order was signed, lawmakers started introducing their own legislation to amend the law.

In June, Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and John Thune (R-SD) introduced the Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency (PACT) Act. If approved, that bill would force large tech platforms to explain how they moderate content in a way that is easily accessible to users.

“There exists no meaningful alternative to these powerful platforms, which means there will be no accountability for the devastating effects of this ingrained ideological bias until Congress steps in and brings liability protections into the modern era,” Blackburn said in a statement Tuesday.

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