Republican senators introduce legislation targeting Section 230

Bill looks to clarify Section 230’s intent and increase social media companies’ accountability for moderating user content

A group of Senate Republicans introduced legislation on Tuesday to take away some of the protections Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act provides social media companies.

Introduced by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). Known as the Online Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act, the bill looks to clarify the original intent of Section 230 and increase accountability surrounding content moderation practices.

The Online Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act would require social media companies to have an “objectively reasonable belief” that the content being removed violated a specific policy or be held liable for their moderation actions.

Additionally, the bill would amend Section 230’s language that’s used as guidance for content moderation by replacing vague terms like “objectionable” with ones like “promoting terrorism,” “self-harm” and “unlawful.” 

“For too long, social media platforms have hidden behind Section 230 protections to censor content that deviates from their beliefs,” said Wicker. 

“These practices should not receive special protections in our society where freedom of speech is at the core of our nation’s values. Our legislation would restore power to consumers by promoting full and fair discourse online,” Wicker continued.

Graham added, “Social media companies are routinely censoring content that to many, should be considered valid political speech. This reform proposal addresses the concerns of those who feel like their political views are being unfairly suppressed.”

In a Tuesday tweet, President Donald Trump called on Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to repeal Section 230. 

“Why does Twitter leave phony pictures like this up, but take down Republican/Conservative pictures and statements that are true? Mitch must fight back and repeal Section 230, immediately. Stop biased Big Tech before they stop you!” Trump said about an image that transposed McConnell’s face onto a Russian guard in Moscow’s Red Square.

In May, President Trump signed an executive order targeting Section 230, arguing that social media companies forfeit Section 230’s legal protections when they moderate user content.

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