Leave Section 230 Alone, Panelists Urge Government: Breakfast on Broadband

WASHINGTON, Nov. 22, 2021 — Communications experts say congressional action to essentially gut Section 230 wouldn’t really solve any problems with social media.

Experts have pointed out that it is not possible for platforms to remove from their site any content that people might consider dangerous. They argue that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects platforms from legal liability for what their users post, is necessary at least to some degree.

During the discussion between these experts at the Broadband Breakfast live online event on Wednesday, Alex Ferest, the co-founder of the Digital Trust and Safety Partnership, who previously worked as a content moderator, said that to some extent it is impossible for platforms to moderate “dangerous” speech because each person has differing opinions on what speech. which they consider dangerous. He says it is this ambiguity that section 230 protects businesses from.

Still, Feerst believes that platforms should take some degree of responsibility for the content of their sites, as mitigation of harm with respect to dangerous speech is necessary wherever possible. He believes that the effects of the platforms’ use of artificial intelligence make some degree of accountability even more essential.

Particularly with the amount of online speech for moderators to review in the internet age, Feerst says clear moderation standards are too complicated and expensive to be viable options.

Matt GerstVice President of Legal and Policy Affairs of the Internet Association, and Shane Tewsnonresident senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, also argue that while content moderation is complex, it is necessary. Scott McColloughattorney for McCollough Law Firm, says big social media companies like Facebook are not the cause of all the problems with social media that are in the national spotlight right now, but rather the social characteristics of society today, such as the extreme prevalence of conflict, are to blame for this focus on social media.

Proposals for change

Rick Lane, CEO of Iggy Ventures, proposes that Section 230 reform include a requirement for social media platforms to make it very clear what content is and is not allowed on their sites. McCullough echoed that concern, saying that many of the moderation actions that platforms are currently taking do not appear to comply with those platforms’ stated terms and conditions, and that individual states across the country should be in able to examine these cases on a case-by-case basis. basis for determining whether the platforms apply their terms and conditions fairly.

Feerst underscored the nuance of this issue, saying that people’s definitions of “consistent” are naturally subjective, but agrees with McCullough that users whose content has been removed should be told about it, along with the reasoning for the actions of the users. moderators.

Lane also believes that the product of Section 230 reform will rightly include a requirement for platforms to demonstrate a level of due diligence and moderate illegal and extremely dangerous content on their sites. Tews generally agreed with Lane that such content moderation is complex, as she sees a separation between free speech and illegal activity.

Gerst pointed to the concerns of companies the Internet Association represents that government regulation resulting from Section 230 reform will require wide-ranging platforms to standardize their operational approaches, which will diminish innovation on the Internet.

Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesdays at noon ET. You can watch the November 17, 2021 event on this page. You can also PARTICIPATE in the ongoing Broadband Breakfast Live Online event. REGISTER HERE.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021, 12 p.m. ET – The Changing Nature of the Social Media Debate and Section 230

Facebook is under fire like never before. In response, the social media giant went so far as to change its official name to Meta (as in the “metaverse”). What are the broader concerns about social media beyond Facebook? How will concerns about Facebook’s practices spill over into other social media networks and into the debate over Section 230 of the Communications Act?

Panelists for this Broadband Breakfast Live Online session:

  • Scott McCulloughLawyer, McCullough Law Firm
  • Shane TewsNon-Resident Principal Investigator, American Enterprise Institute
  • Alex Ferst, Co-Founder, Digital Trust & Safety Partnership
  • Rick LaneCEO, Iggy Ventures
  • Matt GerstVice President of Legal and Policy Affairs, Internet Association
  • Drew Clark (moderator), editor and publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Panelist Resources:

W Scott McCollough practiced communications and Internet law for 38 years, specializing in regulatory issues facing the industry. Its clients include competing communications companies, Internet service and application providers, public interest organizations and consumers.

Shane Tews is a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where she works on international communication, technology, and cybersecurity issues, including privacy, internet governance, data protection, 5G networks, Internet of Things, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. She is also president of Logan Circle Strategies.

Alex Ferest is an attorney and technologist who focuses on building systems that foster trust, community, and privacy. He leads Murmuration Labs, which helps technology companies address the risks and human impact of innovative products, and co-founded the Digital Trust & Safety Partnership, the first industry-led initiative to establish best practices in online trust and security. He was previously Chief Legal Officer and Chief Trust & Safety Officer at Medium, General Counsel at Neuralink, and currently serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Online Trust & Safety, and as a Fellow of the Center for Internet and Society at the ‘Stanford University.

Rick Lane is a technology policy expert, child safety advocate, and founder and CEO of Iggy Ventures. Iggy advises and invests in companies and projects that can have a positive social impact. Prior to founding Iggy, Rick served 15 years as Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at 21st Century Fox.

Matt Gerst is the Vice President of Legal and Policy Affairs and Associate General Counsel of the Internet Association, where he builds consensus on policy positions among the diverse corporate IA members that drive the Internet industry. Most recently, Matt served as Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at CTIA, where he managed a wide range of issues including consumer protection, public safety, network resiliency and universal service. Matt received his JD from New York Law School and served as an Adjunct Professor of Law in the George Washington University School of Law’s Scholarly Writing Program.

Drew Clark is the editor and publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com and a nationally respected telecommunications attorney. Drew brings together experts and practitioners to advance the benefits offered by broadband. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, he spearheaded a State Broadband Initiative, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois. He is also president of the Congress of Rural Telecommunications.

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