Section 230 Needs Thoughtful Reform, Says ITIF

March 24, 2021

WASHINGTON—Ahead of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s hearing “Disinformation Nation: Social Media’s Role in Promoting Extremism and Misinformation,” the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation released the following statement from ITIF Policy Analyst Ashley Johnson:

Section 230 has come under the regulatory microscope as Congress evaluates the impact of harmful online activity like disinformation and the role of online platforms in preventing and addressing this activity. Section 230 continues to be instrumental in enabling innovative online business models that rely on user-generated content and providing companies the liability protection necessary to allow them to moderate user content. 

At the same time, users would benefit from increased accountability and transparency. ITIF has proposed a three-pronged approach to Section 230 reform that would expand federal criminal law around certain forms of harmful online activity, establish a good faith requirement to prevent bad actors from taking advantage of Section 230(c)(1)’s liability shield, and establish a voluntary safe harbor provision to limit financial liability for online services that adhere to standard industry measures for addressing illegal activity.

Congress should enact targeted changes to Section 230 to ensure companies are taking responsibility for addressing harmful content and conduct on their platforms, including disinformation, while preserving Section 230’s benefits for innovation and free speech.

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Section 230 Needs Thoughtful Reform, Says ITIF