Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects social media platforms from legal liability because are considered neutral sites for people to express their opinions rather than publishers.
Nevertheless, Facebook, Twitter and others have been exercising editorial control, censoring points of view and certain subjects.
So why hasn’t Congress acted to remove their Section 230 protections, which shield them from legal liability for their content.
That’s according to U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, who spoke recently with the Daily Caller.
“It goes to money. …. I’ve seen it happen,” she said. “Google will have a big reception and members of Congress will go and pick up their checks. Facebook will have a big reception and they’ll go and ‘hey, where’s my check?'”
Hear the interview:
“It goes to money… Google will have a big reception, members of Congress will go, and then they’ll pick up their checks.”@TulsiGabbard explains why Congress has failed to act on big tech censorship pic.twitter.com/i7TOJYQ7lv
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) January 12, 2021
She noted that Google has the power, through its search engine, to elevate or demote people, opinions, facts and ideas.
“I mean there’s so many different examples that we could point to,” she said. “I’ve experienced that myself with my campaign.”
Gabbard said it comes down to Section 230 giving the tech giants “this legal immunity because the idea is they are just a neutral platform, kind of like a town square, where anybody and everybody is welcome to come in and say their piece.”
That’s different, for example, from the New York Times, which is a publisher that chooses “what news stories they publish, what letters to the editor … what kinds of op-eds.”
Publishers make those decisions knowing they are legally liable.
But the tech “monopolies,” as Gabbard called them, are “essentially acting as publishers” while benefiting from a “legal immunity that allows them literally to play by their own rules without any concern.”
She has proposed legislation that would treat the internet platform providers as publishers.
Companies that maintain neutrality and don’t censor based on a political bias could still maintain those immunities.
Talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh said Monday the “titans of tech are running the United States government because the United States government is made up of people who would rather, uh, get good search results or get really fine campaign donations.”
He cited the multiple times that tech CEOs such as Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Jack Dorsey of Twitter were called before Congress to answer questions about their monopoly power and censorship.
“Every couple of months for the past five years the titans of tech — ‘titans of tech’ — like Rasputin Jack and all of these girlie boys that run these tech outfits will be called up to Congress. Members of various House and Senate committees were gonna get real tough on these dudes!” he recalled.
“They were gonna get real demanding, gonna threaten them with Section 230 removal, gonna threaten them with all kinds of horror if they don’t get it right, if they don’t stop messing around, if they don’t stop ‘stoopin’ around in their stupid tweeting and their infiltrating and all this. They were threatened left and right, the titans of tech every couple of months for five years.”
But nothing happened, he said.
“The titans of tech would smugly leave wherever they were. They would either leave the Capitol if it was in the four years previous for this past year or they would leave their basement/media room and go back to wherever they hang out. After having appeared remotely, they’d go back to the little offices where anybody can wear what they want, drink endless supplies of Red Bull, play on the company-provided video games/ping-pong tables, and face no recrimination whatsoever,” Limbaugh said.
“Congress never did one thing to stop them. Oh, they huffed and they puffed. They made it look like they were gonna bring down the hammer on the titans of tech, didn’t they? Every time there were hearings, it was made to look like these guys had better straighten up and straighten up fast or the mighty United States Congress was going to finally be heard. But it never was, never has been. Do you know why?” he said.
“Congress never did one thing to stop them, never did one thing to get in their way, ever. Not a single thing. Still haven’t. You know why? Scared to death. No. You know what those sessions really were? Those hearings were opportunities for our elected officials to relinquish their authority and power, their authority and power to regulate in exchange for something. You know what? It was so cheap. The titans of tech got off so easy.”
He said all the tech companies had to do was make campaign donations.
“And even more importantly, all the titans of tech had to do was promise members of Congress great search results! You put the name Congressman X Murgatroyd so-and-so and the search results would come back, and this is the greatest congressman there’s ever been. That congressman would gladly pay for that by not punishing the titans of tech.”
The comments came Monday after social media companies launched a fullscale attack on conservative personalities, including banning President Trump and shutting down Parler, an alternative to Twitter that was favored by conservatives.
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