“Time for Self-Regulation is Over”: House Committee Member Wants Action Against Big Tech: Broadband Breakfast


WASHINGTON, November 22, 2021 – Communications experts say congressional action to essentially gut Section 230 would really solve no problem with social media.

Experts have pointed out that it is not possible for platforms to remove any content from their sites that people may consider to be dangerous. They argue that section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects platforms from legal liability for what their users post, is necessary at least to some extent.

During the discussion among these experts at Broadband Breakfast’s live online event on Wednesday, Alex feerst, the co-founder of the Digital Trust and Safety Partnership, who previously worked as a content moderator, said that to some extent it is impossible for platforms to moderate “dangerous” speech because each person has different opinions about this speech they consider dangerous. He says that it is from this ambiguity that section 230 protects businesses.

Nonetheless, Feerst believes that platforms should take some degree of responsibility for the content of their sites, as harm mitigation from dangerous speech is needed wherever possible. He believes that the effects of the use of artificial intelligence by platforms make a certain degree of accountability even more essential.

Particularly with the amount of online talk for moderators to consider in the Internet age, Feerst says clear moderation standards are too complicated and expensive to be viable options.

Matt Gerst, vice president of legal and policy affairs at the Internet Association, and Shane tews, a non-resident lead researcher at the American Enterprise Institute, also say that if content moderation is complex, it is necessary. Scott McCollough, a lawyer at law firm McCollough, says big social media companies like Facebook are not the root cause of all the problems with social media that are in the national spotlight right now, but rather the social characteristics of the today’s society, such as the extreme prevalence of conflict, are to blame for this focus on social media.

Proposals for change

Rick lane, CEO of Iggy Ventures, proposes that the Section 230 reform include a requirement for social media platforms to be very clear about what content is and is not allowed on their sites. McCullough echoed this concern, saying that many of the moderation actions currently being taken by the platforms do not appear to be in line with the terms and conditions of those platforms, and that individual states across the country should be able to review these cases. case by case. basis for determining whether the platforms fairly apply their terms and conditions.

Feerst has pointed out the nuance of this problem by saying that people’s definitions of “consistent” are understandably subjective, but agrees with McCullough that users whose content has been removed should be made aware of this, as well as the reasoning behind it. action of moderators.

Lane also believes that it will rightly be included in the proceeds of the Section 230 reform that platforms will have to exercise a level of due diligence and moderate illegal and other extremely dangerous content on their sites. . Tews generally agreed with Lane that such content moderation is complex, as she sees a separation between free speech and illegal activity.

Gerst highlighted the concerns of the companies the Internet Association represents that government regulation resulting from the Section 230 reform will require a wide variety of platforms to standardize their operational approaches, thus decreasing innovation on the Internet.

Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place Wednesdays at noon ET. You can watch the event of November 17, 2021 on this page. You can also PARTICIPATE in the current Broadband Breakfast Live Online event. REGISTER HERE.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021, noon ET – The Changing Nature of the Social Media Debate and Article 230

Facebook is under fire like never before. In response, the social media giant went so far as to change its official name to Meta (as in the “metaverse”). What are the broader concerns about social media beyond Facebook? How will concerns about Facebook’s practices spill over to other social media networks and debate Section 230 of the Communications Act?

Panelists for this Broadband Breakfast Live Online session:

  • Scott McCullough, Attorney, McCullough Law Firm
  • Shane tews, Non-Resident Principal Investigator, American Enterprise Institute
  • Alex Feerst, Co-founder, Digital Trust & Safety Partnership
  • Rick lane, CEO, Iggy Ventures
  • Matt Gerst, Vice President of Legal and Policy Affairs, Internet Association
  • Drew clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Panelists’ resources:

W. Scott McCollough practiced communications and internet law for 38 years, specializing in regulatory issues facing the industry. Customers include competing communications companies, Internet service and application providers, public interest organizations, and consumers.

Shane tews is a non-resident principal investigator at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where she works on international communication, technology and cybersecurity issues including privacy, internet governance, data protection, 5G networks , the Internet of Things, machine learning and artificial intelligence. She is also president of Logan Circle Strategies.

Alex feerst is an attorney and technologist specializing in creating systems that foster trust, community and privacy. He leads Murmuration Labs, which helps technology companies address the risks and human impact of innovative products, and co-founded the Digital Trust & Safety Partnership, the first industry-led initiative to establish best practices in online trust and security. He was previously Legal and Trust and Security Manager at Medium, General Counsel at Neuralink, and currently serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Online Trust & Safety, and as a member of the Center for Internet and Society of the ‘Stanford University.

Rick lane is a technology policy expert, child safety advocate and the founder and CEO of Iggy Ventures. Iggy advises and invests in companies and projects that can have a positive social impact. Prior to founding Iggy, Rick served for 15 years as Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at 21st Century Fox.

Matt Gerst is Vice President of Legal and Policy Affairs and Associate General Counsel at the Internet Association, where he builds consensus on policy positions among various AI members among the companies that run the Internet industry. Most recently, Matt served as Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at CTIA, where he managed a wide range of issues including consumer protection, public safety, network resiliency and universal service. Matt received his JD from New York Law School and was an Assistant Professor of Law in the Academic Writing Program at George Washington University Law School.

Drew clark is the publisher and publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com and a nationally respected telecommunications lawyer. Drew brings together experts and practitioners to advance the benefits of broadband. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, he led a State Broadband Initiative, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois. He is also president of the Rural Telecommunications Congress.

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