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Partisan bickering could doom efforts to regulate social media companies

But from the technology industry’s perspective, Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on how to overhaul Section 230 because they have diametrically opposed agendas.

“What you’re seeing is a fundamental disagreement on what should and should not be allowed on social media,” said Carl Szabo, vice president of NetChoice, a coalition with members including Facebook, Google and TikTok.

Szabo continued: “Democrats are calling for more content moderation to remove the type of content they don’t like, and Republicans are calling for less content moderation and less discretion. When it comes to policy solutions, they’re running in opposite directions.”

The disconnect over a path forward on Section 230 mirrors a similar situation prior to the 2020 presidential election, when Democrats pressed Facebook on its handling of disinformation related to voting procedures and results and Republicans hammered Twitter for censoring a New York Post article about President Joe Biden’s son Hunter.

The threats by both parties to Section 230 were attempts to “work the referees,” Szabo said, a metaphor he says is once again operable with next year’s midterm elections on the horizon.

“Both parties are trying to amend Section 230 to make it harder for the other side. It’s essentially a political battle,” he said. “If Democrats can control the algorithms they can make it harder for Republicans, and vice versa.”