Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke introduced a new proposal Friday that he says will force social media companies to remove white supremacists from their platforms.
The former Texas Rep., who is trailing in the polls, announced his plan to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which was passed in 1996 when the Internet was young and growing. The rule effectively protects internet companies from liability for content posted by users.
Domain name servers and big tech companies could potentially be held liable if they knowingly promote content that incites violence. O’Rourke is one of more than 20 Democrats running for president in 2020. (RELATED: Sen Hawley Moves Toward Forcing Big Tech To Prove Political Neutrality)
“Beto is calling on internet hosting companies to follow Cloudfare’s lead to not allow 8chan back online and supports the closure of 8chan, Stormfront and other white nationalist communities housed on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter,” O’Rourke’s campaign noted in a statement to the press.
A mass shooter in El Paso appeared to have used 8chan, a messaging board popular with white supremacists, to post an anti-immigrant screed explaining his motivations for carrying out the attack. Cybersecurity company Cloudfare terminated services to 8chan after the shooting.
O’Rourke’s idea came shortly after he dinged President Donald Trump’s rhetoric for supposedly contributing to what he believes is an uptick in such violence.”The terrorist attack on El Paso, fueled by the racist rhetoric of Donald Trump, was not only an attack on America, but an attack on the aspirational ideals of this nation,” he said Friday.
Other lawmakers have considered similar proposals for broadly difference reasons. Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, for instance, introduced legislation in June that would force Google, Facebook and others to prove their political neutrality or face increased liability for user-made content.
“With Section 230, tech companies get a sweetheart deal that no other industry enjoys: complete exemption from traditional publisher liability in exchange for providing a forum free of political censorship,” Hawley wrote in a statement announcing the bill. “Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, big tech has failed to hold up its end of the bargain.”
Other Republicans have also suggested amending the law to force social media companies into becoming more transparent. GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, for one, suggested amending 230 while grilling Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in 2018. The Internet Association has previously pushed back against any such changes, but the group did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment about O’Rourke’s proposal.
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