Section 230 Hearing Demonstrates the Deep Partisan Divide on Online Speech Issues, Says ITIF

December 1, 2021

WASHINGTON—In response to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s ongoing hearing, “Holding Big Tech Accountable: Targeted Reforms to Tech’s Legal Immunity,” the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the leading think tank for science and technology policy, issued the following statement from Ashley Johnson, senior policy analyst:

Despite calls from both sides of the aisle to reform Section 230, today’s hearing reinforced the contradictory approaches Republican and Democratic lawmakers take to online speech issues.

Many Republican lawmakers have accused large social media companies of showing liberal bias by censoring conservative opinions and de-platforming conservative users. These allegations have led to calls for companies to remove less user speech, particularly controversial political speech. Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers have accused the same companies of not removing enough of this speech, thereby failing to stem the tide of online misinformation and protect users from marginalized communities. Because they cannot agree on the problem, Congress uses these hearings to make social media companies the whipping boy—a move that does nothing to advance solutions but appeals to anti-tech populism.

Until both parties can come together on an agreement of what the actual issues are surrounding online free speech—an agreement that does not hinge on lawmakers’ personal opinions regarding what speech is or is not acceptable—the matter of Section 230 reform will remain unresolved...

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Section 230 Hearing Demonstrates the Deep Partisan Divide on Online Speech Issues, Says ITIF