Reading this headline conjures up all kinds of battles in the United States, but I believe one is coming that is not being talked about. It may take until after the midterms for the final battle, but it will be massive. One side is the democratic left along with the social media, and the mainstream press. On the other side is you. At first blush, it looks like it's a no-win on your part, but I don't think that's true.
Rasmussen Reports published the results of their survey performed on May 10, 2021, with the following question. "How confident are you that social media can censor questionable content in a fair and unbiased way?" They posed the survey because Facebook had permanently banned former president Donald Trump from using their platform to express his opinions.
The survey showed that only 35% of likely US voters who regularly use social media are somewhat confident that social media can censor questionable content in a fair and unbiased way. They went on to report that a paltry 14% are very confident, 25% were not very confident at all, and 36% were not at all confident. The survey was conducted during the timeframe when Facebook permanently banned Donald Trump for life.
How many times have you read on Facebook or Twitter, or any other social media and said, "That can't be true? Why is it there?" Many people don't know why and I mean the specific reason those sources can publish things that are not true and get away with it.
What is section 230? The Communications Decency Act was established as Title V of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, right as the Internet was growing and expanding amid the first big tech boom of the 1990s. It was initially created to regulate pornographic material on the Internet. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Christopher Cox (R-CA) created Section 230 within the Communications Decency Act to protect speech on the Internet.
Section 230 says: "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider." The law protects websites from liable (being sued) if one of their users posts something illegal or controversial, so you can't sue Twitter for a tweet someone posted, for example.
This law has been essential to creating social media as it currently exists since it allows people to converse freely, post creative works, and contribute information across platforms.
On the flip side, Section 230 is partially responsible for allowing social networks to become breeding grounds for cyberbullying, hate speech, conspiracy theories, misinformation, harassment, threatening language, and more. However, people like me have been banned because of content certain platforms deemed offensive based on their standards. This makes the social media people in charge of our free speech. They can ban you for life, and you cannot sue them to get your freedom of speech back. Here is an example how the social media platforms have control of the minds of Americans. Pres. Biden did his first address to Congress, and the Republicans chose Tim Scott (R-SC) to respond to the president's speech. Twitter allowed racial slurs to be posted about his speech for almost 11 hours before somebody at Twitter decided to take it down.
The permanent ban on Donald Trump was the first volley in this war. As long as social media can continue to post cyberbullying, hate speech, conspiracy theories, misinformation, harassment, and threatening language, I believe the American people will get more outraged.
It's a pretty safe bet that the current Congress would not repeal section 230, but if the Democrats lose control of the house and the senate in 2022, look for repeal of 230 to be high on the agenda.
If section 230 would be repealed, people would want to tell you that chaos would reign. The social media companies would be sued regularly, and they might even have to go out of business, which would, in turn, impact free speech, or so they say. Without the protection from being sued, the giant companies would have to abandon control of the content on the internet and reduce themselves in a competitive framework with other social media companies. And this is what would happen if competition would come into the marketplace and not be dominated by a handful of providers. For the remaining providers, I'm going to have to follow the content, and if somebody violates the law, it needs to be shut down immediately; some would call that checks and balances.
The social media empires will spend any amount of money to try and protect their franchise, but I think they'll be fighting a losing battle because whether or not you agree or disagree with Donald Trump or any other politician or person, you have the right to speak your mind if it's done civilly. You see, that's what's missing from the internet, respect and civility.
I've thought about this, and I've decided to try and do something about it. I'm starting a radio-television show called "Black and White" to create a civil and respectful dialogue between the races on the day's critical issues. My partner and I hope that we can get America talking again. Come join the conversation. Go to our website www.blacksandwhites.us for more information.