My new column is live at The Drum:
The landmark US law that makes social media networks and tech platforms immune from liability for what users post on them will change under President Joe Biden’s forthcoming administration, The Drum columnist Samuel Scott predicts. Here is some insight into what may occur.
If there was one thing on which Joe Biden and Donald Trump agreed, it is that Section 230 of the US 1996 Telecommunications Act should not continue to exist in its current form.
As I previously discussed at length, the legislation protects any “interactive computer service” in the country from being legally liable for what users post on the platforms. One of the reasons for the law was to protect and grow the nascent internet and world wide web.
Say that I write something ludicrous on social media such as “Oasis was a better band than Blur”. The network would not be responsible at all for people reading such a reprehensible idea. But in practice, Facebook users now spread political disinformation, and YouTube’s algorithm has popularised far-right conspiracy theories. And those are just two examples.
Two decades later, Section 230 has now come under fire from the left and right. The left worries about extremism and disinformation. The right believes they are victims of political bias. As a result, changing the law might be the last remaining bipartisan issue.
And the rest of the world will have to adapt because global social media and tech companies are based in the United States and must adhere to its laws.