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The U.S. Justice Department proposed on Wednesday that Congress curb protections that have benefited big tech companies like Google and Facebook for decades, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“The goal of the proposal, which is being finalized, is to push tech companies to address criminal content on their platforms and boost transparency for users when the outlets take down lawful material, the senior Justice Department official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. But to become law, U.S. lawmakers would need to propose and approve legislation based on the department’s recommendations.”
President Donald Trump has previously said he wants to “remove or change” Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which does not generally hold platforms responsible for what their users post and allows them to moderate the content as they see it.
Also today, Senator Josh Hawley and three other Republicans introduced a bill that would allow people to sue tech companies if they feel that their speech has been censored, per WSJ.
Policing what is posted on social media and who the responsible party is has been a controversial topic over the past few weeks. Trump has raised issues with Twitter for tagging his tweet about mail-in voting. Yesterday, Google reportedly threatened to demonetize the conservative publication The Federalist over its comments section.
Each social media platform has taken a different approach, including which will allow political ads.
Almost everyone agrees that online content includes comments from anonymous trolls looking to make others as miserable as they are. But I have doubts these changes will have much impact. In Google’s case, how will they decide what sites they will demonetize? Because comment sections are mostly terrible across the web. Including on Google’s own YouTube. In fact, that could be the worst of them all.
If the Justice Department’s proposal is approved, will tech companies fairly rule which content is “criminal” and boost transparency? Especially as tech companies are constantly under fire, and oftentimes, rightfully so, for picking and choosing sides.
This all seems like a step in the right direction on the surface, but when you look into it more, it could cause even more chaos and outrage online.