Digital Platforms or Publishers?

Section 230 of the Communication and Decency at which was passed in 1996, says an “interactive computer service” can’t be treated as the publisher or speaker of third-party content. This protects websites from lawsuits if a user posts something illegal, although there are exceptions for copyright violations, sex work-related material, and violations of federal criminal law. It has been the defence of all digital platforms since then - they are a platform not a publisher and are therefore not responsible for content.

Not surprisingly, with the explosion of online content, this is coming under increasing scrutiny - but the line is a difficult one to draw. 

How about this. The first amendment rules if the website is simply putting something up, however untrue, obscene or unpleasant. They are just a platform. If the website’s algorithm is involved in multiplying or promoting it, then the website becomes a publisher and takes on responsibility for that content. 


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