Sunday, October 30, 2022


First, a little background...
A brief refresher on Section 230: Congress passed it in 1996 in reaction to a judicial ruling holding an internet service provider responsible for a defamatory statement posted on a website’s messaging board. The statute precludes internet service providers from being held liable for information provided by a third-party user. The theory was that providers do not generate content. They merely perform the equivalent of a publisher’s traditional editorial functions—such as deciding whether or not to publish content, when to run it, and whether to alter it in some way before publication. Section 230(c)(1) thus specifically states that a provider shall not “be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information” simply because they host it.

In 1996, only 20 million Americans had internet access, and spent on average under thirty minutes surfing the net each month. There was no Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, YouTube, Snapchat, Parler, or Wikipedia. Only a handful of national newspapers had articles posted online. Computers took about 30 seconds to load each page via a phone line and users paid for internet service by the hour. The first commercial ISP was only six years old, and the biggest one by far was The first web page was created in 1991. The first web browser—Mosaic—came out in 1993. Amazon began selling (just) books in 1995. The first web-based email services, Hotmail and Rocketmail, were launched the same year that Section 230 became law, in 1996. The term “blogging” was not coined until 1999.
If Section 230 were to evaporate, literally the first casualty would be blogging services, forums, and comments sections. Places like Arfcom and TheFiringLine would just become legal hazards for their owners, and those are relatively small and easily moderated. If you had a private blog on your own server, you'd need to turn off comments out of sheer self protection.

If Google suddenly became legally liable for every post made on say nothing of the howling idiocy swirling in comments sections...they'd have no time to do anything but defend themselves in court.

And if your reaction to all this is "hUrR dUrR gOoD bCuZ i HaTe gOoGlE cUz tHeY R LiBrUlZ", you're a moron.