The article below does a fairly good job of describing how this only makes sense for CNN to do. Of course, since it mentions Facebook, everyone’s focus will be on that, but this isn’t about Facebook at all. This is about liability laws. In Australia, they’ve recently passed a law that makes the publisher liable for comments posted on social media below links they share.
That’s right if you post a link on Facebook and that old crazy uncle of yours leaves a comment that is libelous, you are held responsible for that comment. Is it any wonder that this has happened then?
CNN’s decision to withdraw its content from Facebook in Australia is a perfect example of how increasing intermediary liability means less speech overall. Removing Section 230 wouldn’t lead to more speech online, it would lead to a lot less.
Now Techdirt brings Section 230 into it, even though that is a US law because that’s the thing that prevents that kind of responsibility, but it’s also become a thing a lot of people in the US want to get rid of because it either lets social media avert responsibility for things posted by users, or lets them, as a private company, make their own rules about what to take down.
Again, I want to take Facebook out of the discussion and talk about how that plays out on a much smaller scale, say this blog.
Section 230 is the only reason there are comments. If I had to be held responsible, legally, for every comment left on here, the ability for folks to respond to me would be gone.
Also, like CNN in Australia, if I’m responsible for any comments left in reply to sharing a post on a social media site, I’m going to stop doing that. I don’t even have the ability to turn off comments there. Imagine what your social media feed would look like if every blogger, and news site, was legally responsible for the comments section, or the Twitter replies? Yeah, not doing that.
So, ok now I’ve got a blog, with no comments and no sharing across social media. That sounds bad, but I’m still able to have my free speech, right?
Maybe not. This blog is on a website that is hosted by another company, so technically it’s being published by me, on their server. Section 230 protects them too and means that they aren’t responsible for what I say here, and don’t have to monitor it. They only need to act if there’s a legal need to, brought to them by someone else. (Like selling something illegal, or breaking copyright)
Without Section 230 though, they are responsible for what I post, so now they need to either monitor me or approve everything before it gets published. That’s a lot. Maybe they just quit hosting blogs instead.
And this same song and dance will repeat for every single site on the internet until there’s very little left. The only companies with enough resources to actually do all the things that would be required to monitor all content, ironically, would be Google, Facebook, etc.
Gee, it’s almost like giving them a gift, eliminating ALL of the competition. It’s no wonder Facebook has been asking for regulation. They know the rest of us won’t be able to keep up.