Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene

Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene/Facebook

Marjorie Taylor Greene announces her plan to abolish Section 230

The QAnon congresswoman says Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter spurred her to introduce the bill.

 

Mikael Thalen

Tech

Posted on Apr 28, 2022   Updated on May 2, 2022, 1:04 pm CDT

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) introduced legislation on Thursday to abolish Section 230, the law that protects websites from being held accountable for content posted by users.

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Greene, who announced the bill in the wake of Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s planned purchase of Twitter, cited what she described as attacks on free speech by private tech companies as the primary motivating factor behind the legislation.

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Greene’s bill, known as the “21st Century FREE Speech Act,” would replace Section 230’s current framework with a provision that requires “reasonable, non-discriminatory access to online communications platforms” through a “common carrier,” as noted by the Hill.

“Social media would be a common carrier very much like FedEx or the airlines where no matter who you are, you can buy a plane ticket and then fly somewhere,” Greene said. 

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Online platforms, which Greene argues have an anti-conservative bias, would be barred from having any “undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to any particular person, class of persons, political or religious group or affiliation, or locality.”

Users who believe they were wrongly targeted or banned from such platforms would also be given the ability to sue major tech companies. Platforms would be required to make public their content moderation policies as well.

Greene, whose personal Twitter account was banned in early January for repeated violations of the platform’s COVID misinformation policy, also stated that Musk’s purchase of Twitter spurred her to introduce the bill.

“Elon Musk buying Twitter and talking about defending free speech has ramped up the Democrats’ efforts to want to clamp down on speech,” she added. “And so that made me realize, you know, that I need to introduce this now.”

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But experts on Section 230 claim that most Republicans have a deep misunderstanding of how the law actually works. Despite frequent references to the First Amendment, which only applies to government censorship, private companies are not required to be politically neutral or moderate content in a specific fashion, if at all.

Support for removing or rewriting Section 230 isn’t an entirely partisan issue, though. Both former President Donald Trump, who was similarly removed from Twitter, and President Joe Biden have previously advocated for changing Section 230. Many bills, which now include Greene’s, have been introduced in Congress, although few have gained much momentum.


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*First Published: Apr 28, 2022, 2:46 pm CDT