Hawley is using our exact legal argument – Section 210 of the CDA — in our 2016 lawsuit against social media giant censorship.
From July 2016 Breitbart article here:
The American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) is filing a federal lawsuit today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, challenging Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) under the First Amendment. In a press release, he AFLC explained that “Section 230 provides immunity from lawsuits to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, thereby permitting these social media giants to engage in government-sanctioned censorship and discriminatory business practices free from legal challenge.” The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, and Jihad Watch.
As the AFLC explained, “Geller and Spencer, along with the organizations they run, are often subject to censorship and discrimination by Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube because of Geller’s and Spencer’s beliefs and views, which Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube consider expression that is offensive to Muslims. Such discrimination, which is largely religion-based in that these California businesses are favoring adherents of Islam over those who are not, is prohibited in many states, but particularly in California by the state’s anti-discrimination law, which is broadly construed to prohibit all forms of discrimination. However, because of the immunity granted by the federal government, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are free to engage in their otherwise unlawful, discriminatory practices.”
I hope Hawley gets further than we got.
Sen. Hawley Unveils Anti-Censorship Bill, Taking Aim At Big Tech’s Anti-Conservative Bias
Daily Wire, June 20, 2019:
Wednesday, Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) unveiled legislation aimed at stopping increasingly prevalent Big Tech censorship by stripping massive corporations of platform protections if said companies do not maintain political neutrality. The Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act specifically addresses how massive tech platforms are treated under under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA).
“With Section 230, tech companies get a sweetheart deal that no other industry enjoys: complete exemption from traditional publisher liability in exchange for providing a forum free of political censorship,” Hawley explained on Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, big tech has failed to hold up its end of the bargain,” the senator continued. “There’s a growing list of evidence that shows big tech companies making editorial decisions to censor viewpoints they disagree with. Even worse, the entire process is shrouded in secrecy because these companies refuse to make their protocols public.”
Under the Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act, tech giants could only ensure their government-granted immunity by bringing “transparency and accountability to their editorial processes and prove that they don’t discriminate,” Hawley said.
Hawley’s campaign website details what would be implemented and the mechanics of the bill if it were to be signed into law, highlighting:
- Removes automatic immunity under Section 230 from big tech companies
- Gives big tech companies the ability to earn immunity through external audits
- Big tech companies would have to prove to the FTC by clear and convincing evidence that their algorithms and content-removal practices are politically neutral
- The FTC could not certify big tech companies for immunity except by a supermajority vote
- Big tech companies would be responsible for the cost of conducting audits
- Big tech companies would have to reapply for immunity every two years
The senator’s legislation only targets giant tech companies, applying “to companies with more than 30 million active monthly users in the U.S., more than 300 million active monthly users worldwide, or who have more than $500 million in global annual revenue.”
The bill comes as censorship against conservatives, or anyone not echoing far-left dogma, continues to grow on sites like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
For example, pro-life film “Unplanned” was seemingly targeted for censorship by Twitter. As reported by The Daily Wire in April, the “Unplanned” account (which was never “verified” by Twitter) was temporarily suspended, allegedly due to a supposed Twitter “error.” But when the account was restored after a major backlash, folks attempting to follow the account were unable to do so, or those who did follow were quickly removed from the account.
Journalist Tim Pool questioned Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast about the apparent targeted censorship, asking “How many grains of sand” — or “errors”— “make a heap”?
“How many mistakes do they need to make before they realize maybe there is a systemic problem on their platform pointing in one direction?” Pool said. “It’s very convenient for [Twitter] to say, ‘something happened behind the scenes — trust us.’ I don’t.”
Amazingly enough, when Pool created a video discussing the censorship of “Unplanned,” his video had curious issues uploading to YouTube.
“In an odd coincidence, I made a video today about the suspension of [‘Unplanned’] and the weirdest thing happened. Youtube didn’t publish the video as scheduled. It kept giving me an unknown error when I tried to manually publish it.” The journalist also noted that his view count for the video was “way down.” Another coincidence, assuredly.
The lack of transparency in the apparent censorship was made an issue by Hawley during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
“You said earlier that you are a pro-transparency company, that you want to embrace transparency. So you have your chance now; tell us you’ll make the protocols public,” Hawley grilled Twitter executive Carlos Mohje Jr. “Will you make them public?”
Mohje Jr. said it was not his decision to make such matters public, noting that he would have the Twitter team “get back” to Hawley regarding the transparency.
“This is why we need the Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act,” the senator’s press office posted to Twitter, capturing video of his interaction with the Twitter rep. “During a recent hearing on tech censorship and bias, Senator Hawley questioned Twitter’s approach to transparency. Watch what happened Twitter was asked to commit to making their processes public.”
In May, Facebook and Instagram deplatformed so-called “dangerous” figures and organizations, including Infowars founder Alex Jones, self-described investigative journalist Laura Loomer, Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson, provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. The tech company has been accused of anti-conservative bias by Republicans and accused of not being censorial enough by Democrats.
Pinterest got in on the censorship game big-time this month, targeting Christian content, and when the alleged censorship was reported by investigative journalist group Project Veritas, that video was censored by YouTube.
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