Friday, December 04, 2020

"Section 230 Is Good, Actually", as explained by Electronic Frontier Foundation


EFF HQ in Eddy St in SF CA

Jason Kelly has a long booklet-length summary of how Section 230 works (titled “Section 230 Is Good, Actually”), published online December 3, 2020 and represents Electronic Frontier Foundation’s answer to the controversy caused by Trump’s recent tirade of tweets (EFF doesn’t discuss the NDAA explicitly). 

I won’t go over the details, except to say the obvious:  without it, we couldn’t have user-generated content as we know it.  The second prong quite literally allows a platform hosting user speech to have a political bias.  It is OK for it to object to “all lives matter” in context.  The article also points out that Section 230 protects group-level speech from marginalized “intersectional” minorities, who would otherwise become voiceless.  FOSTA provides an example, which has been followed by increased violence against trans people of color in the streets.

What’s more at issue with me is how quickly “things changed” in the late 1990s, in that it was possible for someone relatively obscure when forced to compete “socially” within political group activity to be heard (or somehow sell big) to be heard for his (or “their”) own and have an impact.  But this does not sit well with everyone. Some people think that it allows sigma-outliers like me to have outsized influence without putting their own “skin in the game” and sharing the same exposure to risk and sacrifice.  Demonstrators say, they don’t want more bloggers and video photographers, they want more protesters in the streets.  Yup, I get that.

What may be at most risk is individualized speech, outside of the control of the major non-profits or activist groups. I am concerned about how Biden will see this, based on his past statements.  

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