Thursday, June 20, 2019

"GOP senator introduces a bill that would blow up business models for Facebook, YouTube and other tech giants" (FB; GOOG; TWTR)

If you are going to act like a publisher with editorial discretion you should be treated like a publisher.

Contra this approach, there are learned scholars who say even re-writing section 230 is not enough, that a new law explicitly delineating the difference between platforms and publishers will have to be written.

From CNBC:
  • Sen. Josh Hawley introduces legislation to remove the immunity Big Tech receives for user-posted content.
  • The bill would only affect companies with more than 30 million U.S. users, 300 million global users, or $500 million in annual revenue, but that would cover giants like Facebook, Google and Twitter.
  • However, large companies would be able to apply for immunity from the bill by having the FTC attest that their algorithms and content removal policies do not discriminate on the basis of political viewpoints, a common complaint of conservatives.
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is turning up the heat on an issue that is sure to spark outrage in Silicon Valley.

Hawley, a tech critic, introduced legislation on Wednesday that would remove the immunity big technology companies receive under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. The CDA protects online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google’s YouTube from liability for the content users post. However, companies will be able to earn immunity from the crackdown if they submit to audits every two years to prove their algorithms and content-removal practices are “politically neutral.”

The idea of limiting Section 230 immunity has earned bipartisan support in recent years, as the companies have struggled to keep offensive and illegal content, ranging from terrorist propaganda to foreign-influenced election meddling, off their platforms.

Repealing the immunity provision could force these companies to use an editorial system where every piece of user-posted content would have to be vetted for illegal or libelous material before it’s posted, instead relying on algorithms and human checkers to scan it after it was already online and had a chance to spread to millions of people. This would fundamentally alter the business models of companies that depend on huge volumes of user-generated content, including all the big social networks....MORE
The fact there is bi-partisan support is one of the reasons we posted ""Not all FAANGS will survive this battle': A Wall Street firm handicapped the impact of Big Tech regulation — and it's bad news for Facebook" (FB)", the Democrats were not pleased with the FB/Cambridge Analytica revelations while the Republicans bristle at deplatforming and are strategizing on some Masterpiece Cakeshop jiu-jitsu, perhaps amending the '64 Civil Rights Act to include political orientation à la  the Washington D.C municipal code.