Talking Tech - May 30:
Understanding Section 230 and why it won’t help Trump

What’s going on with Trump and Twitter?

First Trump’s tweets on mail-in votes came with a warning that the information wasn’t factually correct. Then this morning a tweet was deemed to be inciting violence and came with a warning.
He has now issued an executive order that is basically meaningless. He’s trying to repeal “Section 230”.

Trump and his White House staffers are going after a Twitter employee on the Integrity team for his anti-Republican views, but Twitter says no one person makes a decision to flag posts.

What is Section 230?

Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act – which was passed by Congress and tested in the courts – does two things:

  1. States that the platform is not the publisher and cannot be held liable for the content posted by users (with some exceptions)
  2. Gives the platform the ability to remove any content it deems to be objectionable.

Section 230 allows for the internet as we know it to exist. Removing it would mean no comments on FoxNews.com, it would mean no Amazon product reviews, it would be the end of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and more.

Section 230 also allows for cloud services to exist – because if a company is allowing you to store files, it’s not responsible for those files. Remember Kim Dotcom and megaupload? 

Remember, social Networks are private companies – and aren’t under any obligation to boost or spread your speech. They also aren’t under any obligation to allow you to post whatever you want. They’re private companies that can set their own rules. They can remove you, ban you or delete all your contents whenever they want.

Trump also believes that social media is anti-conservative?

Which is untrue. Sure the companies are headquartered in liberal cities, but they’re used by hundreds of millions of Americans. On Facebook for example, conservative views are rampant. Conservative media are some of the biggest on the platform – FOX News is #1.


Paul Stenhouse is the Technology Contributor on Newstalk ZB’s ‘Saturday Morning with Jack Tame’.

Subscribe for free weekly updates on Spotify, Google Podcasts or Apple Podcasts.