Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) has indicated that there is a need to reconsider the legal immunity from lawsuits over users’ posts. However, this position leaves smaller websites concerned regarding the cost of accepting increased responsibility for what users post on their platforms.
Trump wants Section 230 repealed
In recent weeks Facebook has been prominent in discussions over the liability shield in Section 230 of the Communications decency Act. The Act is subject to a proposal from the Federal Communications Commission in the coming days. Last week US President Donald Trump vetoed a defense bill after legislators failed to include a repeal of the immunity protections. Trump said that Section 230 facilitates the spread of disinformation which is a threat to national security and thus there is a need to repeal it. However, Congress is planning to overrule the veto but they say there is a need to address the liability shield going forward.
The social media giant has been running ads indicating there is a need for updated internet regulations to offer clarity in guidelines to address current tough challenges. This has however left small and mid-sized firms such as Tripadvisor Inc. and Etsy Inc. in a precarious situation. Whereas Facebook will afford extensive content moderation if the shield is weakened, small companies will not manage.
Smaller firms don’t have enough resources to moderate content
Etsy’s director of government relations Jeffrey Zubricki stated that the Hill wants to address alleged abuses or responsibility lapses by Big Tech companies. However, having one-size-fits-all policy guidelines could only embolden the large tech platforms at the expense of smaller websites such as Etsy. Mid this month Etsy and other small and mid-sized platforms formed a coalition, Internet Works, established in acknowledgment that the discussion kin the liability shield could continue to the Joe Biden administration.
There is myopia among lawmakers when rethinking legislation with only big tech firms in their minds. Emma Llanso, Free Expression Project director at the Centre for Democracy and Technology opines that it is worrying for smaller firms since they don’t have the resources that large firms have.