Content Moderation 08/29/2020

The Origins and Original Intent of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act

“[Final paragraph:]   In the final analysis, it is useful to place this legislative history in contemporary context.  Imagine returning to a world without Section 230, as some today are urging. In this alternative world, websites and internet platforms of all kinds would face enormous potential liability for hosting content created by others. They would have a powerful incentive to limit that exposure, which they could do in one of two ways. They could strictly limit user-generated content, or even eliminate it altogether; or they could adopt the “anything goes” model through which CompuServe originally escaped liability before Section 230 existed. We would all be very much worse off were this to happen. Without Section 230’s clear limitation on liability it is difficult to imagine that most of the online services on which we rely every day would even exist in anything like their current form. While courts will continue to grapple with the challenges of applying Section 230 to the ever-changing landscape of the 21st century internet, hewing to its fundamental principles and purposes will be a far wiser course for policy makers than opening a Pandora’s box of unintended consequences that upending the law would unleash.”

Read at the University of Richmond’s Journal of Law and Technology here.

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