Tech

WH Communications Director Repeats Threat To Combat ‘Irresponsible Content’ By Eliminating Section 230

Screenshot via MSNBC

Michael Ginsberg General Assignment Reporter
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White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said Tuesday that President Joe Biden will “review” eliminating legal protections for social media companies to prevent users from sharing “bad information” about COVID-19 vaccines.

“We’re reviewing that and certainly they should be held accountable. And I think you heard the president speak very aggressively about this,” Bedingfield said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” in response to a question from Mika Brzezinski about Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Press Secretary Jen Psaki made a similar statement on Monday.

“As a candidate, the president said he was open to getting rid of Section 230. And I’m just wondering if he’s open to amending 230 when Facebook and Twitter and other social media outlets spread false information that cause Americans harm, shouldn’t they be held accountable in a real way?” Brzezinski asked. “Shouldn’t they be liable for publishing that information and then open to lawsuits?”

Section 230 distinguishes internet content hosts and providers, like social media sites and search engines, from internet content producers, like their users. It ensures that hosts are not held legally responsible for the posts of users, and allows hosts to “voluntarily take [actions] in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider… considers to be … objectionable.” (RELATED: As Bipartisan Calls To Amend Section 230 Mount, Experts Emphasize Unintended Consequences)

Republicans like former President Donald Trump and Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley argue that Section 230 allows tech companies to unfairly moderate conservative users. Democrats like Bedingfield and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar claim that the provision allows platforms to avoid removing users who post “content that can lead to real-world harm.”

“It is also the responsibility of the people creating the content,” Bedingfield continued. “Again I would go back to you know there are conservative news outlets who are creating irresponsible content that’s sharing misinformation about the virus that’s getting shared on these platforms. So it is a big and complicated ecosystem and everybody bears responsibility to ensure that we are not providing people with bad information about a vaccine that will save their lives.”

Psaki told reporters on Monday that Biden believes social media platforms have a responsibility “about the information that is traveling on their sites.”