Bipartisan PACT Act aims to reform Section 230

PACT would hold social media companies accountable for their content moderation policies

US Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and John Thune (R-SD) have introduced the Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency (PACT) Act.

The bipartisan legislation to update Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act aims to strengthen transparency related to content moderation policies on social media platforms while also holding companies accountable for illegal content and content posted in violation of their own policies.

While Section 230 currently offers immunity to companies hosting user-generated content and provides protection for platforms taking an active role in moderating content on their sites, legal immunity for social media platforms has come under severe scrutiny in recent weeks. 

Taking this scrutiny into account, PACT aims to create more transparency by requiring social media platforms to explain their content moderation practices in a way that’s easily accessible to the platform’s users. PACT would also require companies to develop a complaint system to notify its users of moderation decisions within 14 days.  Companies would be required to develop an appeals process for content moderation decisions too.

Further, PACT would amend Section 230 by requiring online platforms to remove user-posted content deemed illegal by a court within 24 hours of the court’s decision. PACT would also prevent online platforms from using Section 230 as a defense if federal regulators pursue civil actions related to online activity.

“Section 230 was created to help jumpstart the internet economy, while giving internet companies the responsibility to set and enforce reasonable rules on content. But today, it has become clear that some companies have not taken that responsibility seriously enough,” said Senator Schatz. 

“Our bill updates Section 230 by making platforms more accountable for their content moderation policies and providing more tools to protect consumers,” Schatz added.

Just last month, President Donald Trump signed an executive order targeting Section 230 and social media companies. The move came shortly after Twitter fact-checked multiple tweets posted by the president.

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