This is ultimately the nightmare scenario for the internet if Section 230 is just wiped out.
“Example: if platforms are made responsible for everything millions of users post on their sites, they will have to read it all first. This would mark the end of the internet as a forum for real time communication.
It would also force every website hosting user content to create round-the-clock legal and editorial review teams staffed with hundreds or thousands of people to continually monitor every message, video, photo, and blog. Alternatively, websites would face exorbitant legal damages at every turn. That is not realistic.
More realistic is that the many online avenues that ordinary citizens currently use to express themselves would be closed. Hosting user-created content will be too costly and risky. It is difficult to imagine a scenario more chilling of individual speech and the public’s right to know. “
Lest you think this is all about the big social networks, it isn’t. Yes, they are the targets of the various factions that want to get rid of Section 230, but what they’ll end up hitting is everyone. Think about it, every single website is reliant on some internet provider, whether it be something like Blogger or WordPress.com, or a paid hosting provider, if they wind up being responsible for everything that is published on their service, most of them will cease to exist, or become so expensive as to only be available to large commercial enterprises anyway, and you’re ability to create content and share it online will likely become extremely limited, and expensive. Doing it for free? Non-existent. Someone has to foot the bill to have all that content reviewed and approved.
Let’s take a quick example. Let’s say someone came here and left a comment linked to a fake news site, and said fake news site had an article that was clearly libelous. If you are the target of that libel who can you sue for spreading that? Right now, the fake news site, and possibly, to a lesser extent, the individual who left the comment here. That’s it. I am also free to choose whether I want to remove the comment or leave it. I am not censoring if I remove it. And if I somehow miss seeing it and don’t remove it, that’s OK too, I’m only hurting my own reputation by leaving it there, not incurring any legal liability.
If there’s no section 230? I have to proactively make sure that comment doesn’t appear. My hosting provider needs to make sure I remove it, and that any of my blog posts also don’t leave them liable for any content. WordPress might even be in trouble for creating the software that let me write that blog post, and have users comment. The fake news site that published it is liable still, but so is the host provider of that website, and any other tools that they use to run that website.
In essence, sure Facebook becomes responsible for everything every user posts, and we never worry about harassment or misinformation again, but so does every small business or individual who wants to run a website as well, and as the very authors of Section 230 point out in the article below, the only way to comply with no rules, is to read everything first, and not publish it until it’s been reviewed by a moderator.
Is that really what we want?