Tech Company Protections

Tech companies, primarily Facebook, Twitter, and Alphabet, get nearly blanket immunity from responsibility for the content that’s published on their outlets. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which was instrumental to their initial success, gives them that broad immunity, based on those companies’ initial status as agnostic pipelines that merely provided a place for disparate commentary to be promulgated.

Protected monopolies (vis., pre-breakup Ma Bell) gave government-sanctioned special, protective, treatment to selected companies in order to facilitate their initial success. There came a time when that protection no longer was warranted, and the protection was eliminated.

So it is with Facebook, Twitter, and Alphabet. Their special, protective, treatment is no longer warranted, and it needs to be withdrawn. Those companies are no longer agnostic pipelines; they’ve taken—increasingly over the last few years—the role of controlling (some might say censoring) the content they allow on their platforms. They block some content, limit access to other content, even delete content after promulgation. They’re no longer agnostic; they limit discussions to directions that satisfy their management teams’ approval. They’ve become publishers of content.

Tech companies acknowledge they need to improve their content moderation practices, but they deny negligence or political bias.

These tech companies cannot be trusted to “improve their content moderation practices,” not when they issue such openly ridiculous denials. Those denials demonstrate either those companies’ management teams’ dishonesty or those teams’ inability to recognize their own negligence or bias.

Indeed, the very existence of “content moderation practices” beyond that required by the FCC—which center on barring active incitements to violence—demonstrates the teams’ dishonesty or inability to recognize their own bias.

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