Pressure from the Biden administration to eliminate COVID-19 disinformation online highlights calls for Section 230 reform, while further highlighting the deep partisan divide between lawmakers’ approaches to change the law that provides technology companies a shield of responsibility.
Critical comments against Facebook made by President BidenJoe BidenKentucky lawmaker comes under scrutiny for comparing Fauci to Jonestown cult leader Omar leads lawmakers to call on US envoy to fight Islamophobia The Public Charter School Group explodes the democratic cut proposal and Twitter’s action against a controversial lawmaker this week increased pressure on big tech companies already defending themselves against their content policies, but also highlighted the opposing reasons on the two sides.
In recent days, Biden has joined efforts by Congressional Democrats to pressure social media companies to take action against misinformation about the coronavirus and vaccines. But amid the administration’s push, Republicans are racking up criticism of the Silicon Valley giants and government-led efforts to hold them accountable.
Twitter has temporarily suspended the representative. Marjorie Taylor GreeneMarjorie Taylor GreeneGOP’s Efforts to Minimize Danger of Increased Riots on Capitol Hill The Memo: What Now for Anti-Trump Republicans? Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene says she will meet Trump “soon” in Florida MORE (R-Ga.) On Monday for sharing misleading coronavirus claims, in line with the platform’s policies regarding the publication of disinformation about the coronavirus. Soon after, the congresswoman used her active Facebook account to criticize the social media company for “censorship.”
Greene does not appear to have posted the same or similar false statements about the coronavirus on Facebook as she did on Twitter which led to her 12 hour suspension.
Meanwhile, Biden retracted on Monday his blunt accusation Friday that Facebook is “killing people” with misinformation about the virus, but continued to pressure the platform to “do something about the misinformation, the scandalous disinformation about the vaccine ”.
A battle is brewing in Washington with the two main parties using the tech platform’s alleged suppression of disinformation, or lack thereof, to push for a review of a controversial law that provides the platforms with a shield of legal liability on content posted by third parties. The crossed goals of the two parties could mean that efforts to reform the law will not go far, especially in the 50-50 Senate where at least 60 votes are needed to move most laws forward.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides for the Liability Shield, has come under attack by both parties in recent years, albeit for different reasons.
Republicans have focused their efforts to repeal and reform Section 230 on unsubstantiated claims that tech platforms censor content with an anti-conservative bias.
Senator Marsha blackburnMarsha BlackburnWhite House seeks to calm battle with Facebook Republicans worried about Olympians’ use of digital yuan during Beijing Games GOP senators urge Yellen to notify them of expiration of debt ceiling, inflation PLUS (R-Tenn.), Who introduced a Section 230 reform bill last year, wrote to the White House over the weekend to condemn the administration for saying it would flag problematic positions to companies.
“These revelations are deeply worrying. The blatant actions of your administration to work with big tech companies to censor Americans’ free speech are shocking, ”Blackburn wrote.
Senator Mike leeMichael (Mike) Shumway Lee Lawmakers unveil measure to increase Congressional control over war permits GOP senators urge Yellen to brief them on debt ceiling expiration, inflation A plan to deal with the crisis growing number of orphan wells MORE (Utah), the top Republican on the Senate Judicial Antitrust subcommittee that also seeks to crack down on tech giants, also criticized the White House’s actions to pressure Facebook to adopt a more aggressive approach to eliminate misinformation.
“This is a private, for-profit company that can make its own decisions, but when it does it with the complicity of government, it sounds a lot like a First Amendment violation to me,” Lee said last week. on Fox News.
In the House, the reform of Article 230 is listed as a top priority in the technology programs defined by the member of the judicial committee. Jim jordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanNight Health Care: Fauci Confronts Paul – Again | New York Reaches $ 0.1 Billion Settlement With Opioid Distributors | Delta variant accounts for 83% of COVID-19 cases in US Pelosi weighing GOP picks for Jan 6 probe Fauci: Paul doesn’t know what he’s talking about “and I mean it officially” MORE (R-Ohio) and rank member of the Energy and Trade Committee Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersHouse GOP to launch climate caucus New Alzheimer’s drug sparks backlash against FDA, pricing FDA approves first new Alzheimer’s drug in nearly 20 years MORE (R-Washing.).
Rodgers criticized the White House’s efforts last week, tweeting, “The answer to speech you may disagree with is always more speech, not less. It’s the American way.
Jordan’s agenda released earlier this month calls for a “legal basis” for Americans to challenge technology platforms in court for “conservative censorship and silencing.”
Likewise, the former President TrumpDonald TrumpOn The Money: Schumer puts pressure on spending strategy from all sides | GOP hammers HUD chief over slow rental aid | Democrat proposes taxes on commercial spaceflight Night healthcare: Fauci clashes with Paul – again | New York Reaches $ 0.1 Billion Settlement With Opioid Distributors | The Delta variant accounts for 83% of COVID-19 cases in the United States. Defense overnight: Military justice review included in defense bill | Pentagon watchdog to review ‘nuclear football’ safety | Pentagon carries out first airstrike in Somalia under Biden MORE filed a lawsuit this month against Facebook, Twitter and Google over allegations of censorship following the bans and suspensions put in place against Trump’s account for messages he posted about the January 6 riot in Capitol.
The basis for the argument, that removing such content is a violation of the First Amendment, misapplies the law to private companies, and legal experts say the lawsuit will almost certainly be dismissed.
Democrats differ from their GOP colleagues in calling for reform of Section 230 in a way that seeks to hold companies more accountable for cracking down on certain third-party content.
Meaning of Democratique. Amy KlobucharAmy Klobuchar Biden to Appoint Big Tech Critic to DOJ Antitrust Role White House Seeks Fight With Facebook The Hill 12:30 pm Report – Presented by Goldman Sachs – Key Week for Biden Infrastructure Goals MORE (Minnesota.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerThe Hill’s Morning Report – Will Schumer Back Down? Schumer sets up Biden infrastructure showdown on Wednesday opens new cyber fight with China MORE (Go.) And Mazie hironoMazie Keiko HironoNon-White Democratic Senate Employees Rising From 2020 Hirono Tells Ted Cruz To Stop “mansplaining” “Killibuster”: Democratic Angst Rises As Systematic Obstruction Threatens Agenda MORE (Hawaii) introduced a bill that would remove some of the protections to allow users facing cyberstalking, targeted harassment and discrimination to take legal action against the platforms.
Klobuchar used the debate over how platforms handle coronavirus misinformation, following the Surgeon General’s advice on health misinformation last week, to bolster the bill.
“I think we should also consider changing the accountability standards for vaccine misinformation. Senator Warner, Hirono and I have already introduced a bill that would focus on discriminatory and other content, ”she said Sunday on CNN’s“ State of the Union ”.
Facebook has defended its policies against criticism of vaccine misinformation. A spokesperson for the platform said that “more than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook,” and more than 3.3 million Americans have used its tool. vaccine research.
But there are at least 284 public and private anti-vaccine Facebook groups spreading disinformation and conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a report released Tuesday by left-wing watchdog group Media Matters. The groups had more than 520,000 combined members, according to the report.
A Facebook spokesperson said the company “is reviewing the report and will take action against groups that violate our policies.”
Trump’s efforts to repeal Section 230 failed before he left office, but the Biden administration has also indicated that it is open to Section 230 reform.
“We’re looking into this,” White House communications director Kate bedingfieldKate Bedingfield White House uses Trump’s words praising China to criticize McCarthy Biden’s Biden, Putin kicks off high-stakes summit in Geneva Psaki signals she will step down next year MORE said Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” about Section 230.
“They should be held accountable and I think you’ve heard the president speak very aggressively about this. He understands that this is an important part of the ecosystem, ”said Bedingfield.
Pressed for more information on the review, a White House official told The Hill, “We continue to follow the process of Congress to reform Section 230.”
“The president continues to believe that this virtually unlimited immunity for platforms must end,” the official said.