Democrats have unveiled a bill that would limit Section 230 liability shields for social media companies, Reuters reported.
The SAFE Tech Act, proposed by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Mazie Hirono and Mark Warner, aims to hold social media companies accountable such as Alphabet Inc’s Google, Twitter and Facebook for “enabling cyber-stalking, targeted harassment, and discrimination on their platforms,” according to a statement, Reuters reported.
Section 230 was first enacted in 1996 as part of a law called the Communications Decency Act, which was devised to provide immunity to social media platforms by making them not liable for content posted to their platforms. Also, Section 230 gives social media full control to moderate content on their platforms as they see fit without any form of federal oversight.
Republicans have made previous efforts to amend Section 230 while former President Trump sought to have it abolished altogether, the Daily Caller reported.
On Jan. 9, Ted Cruz tweeted that “Big Tech’s PURGE, censorship & abuse of power is absurd & profoundly dangerous,” further echoing sentiments held by Republicans over social media censorship.
Big Tech’s PURGE, censorship & abuse of power is absurd & profoundly dangerous.
If you agree w/ Tech’s current biases (Iran, good; Trump, bad), ask yourself, what happens when you disagree?
Why should a handful of Silicon Valley billionaires have a monopoly on political speech? https://t.co/ehgVYtHX7H
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) January 9, 2021
Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah took a stab at amending Section 230 in December 2020, introducing the Promoting Responsibility Over Moderation In the Social Media Environment Act, or PROMISE Act, which would require social media companies to disclose their content moderation policies and bars specific types of content from being removed, the Daily Caller reported.
The Democrats’ SAFE Tech Act would take a different approach to Big Tech by removing protections for paid content and ads as well as ensuring social media platforms do not impair civil rights laws and wrongful-death actions, Reuters reported.
“We need to be asking more from big tech companies, not less,” Klobuchar said in a statement, Reuters reported. “Holding these platforms accountable for ads and content that can lead to real-world harm is critical, and this legislation will do just that.”