Section 230 is essential to facilitating user expression. Free expression is harmed, not helped, by proposals that limit a platform’s ability to moderate content. Enabling expression requires fostering an environment where all voices can be heard -- not one where hateful, abusive, and misleading speech drives users away. Section 230 protects the ability of internet users like you and me to engage with one another on a range of topics and interests, from writing restaurant reviews to sharing opinions on politics, religion, and life.
With Section 230, platforms are not liable for user-posted content that they carry. This enables digital platforms to rid their services of misinformation, hate speech, and other forms of objectionable content. Companies like Twitter and YouTube might not have prospered, and may not even have existed, had they been afraid of being sued based on user-generated content. Even more importantly, the next Facebook or Google might not come about if the law is reformed in ways that increase the risks associated with hosting user content.
Too many people rely on the internet -- from startups to students, from social movements like Black Lives Matter to the average consumer interacting with friends and family -- for us to get this wrong. This is why lawmakers should not repeal Section 230 and should be extremely cautious in their approach to reform. We’ve put together nine principles to ensure Section 230 continues to protect free expression online. Tell your members of Congress to commit to the following principles for any content moderation legislation and Section 230 reform.