Reddit is urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reject a petition for rulemaking to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, saying that if the section changes it “would change the very trajectory of the internet.”
Earlier this summer, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), a part of the executive branch, filed a petition for rulemaking with the FCC to amend Section 230. The petition stemmed from President Donald Trump’s social media executive order.
Section 230 shields websites from being held liable for what is posted on them by third parties and has been hailed as “one of the most valuable tools for protecting freedom of expression and innovation on the internet.”
As part of the process, the FCC is collecting public comments about the petition. Reddit filed its comment earlier this week, arguing that a change in Section 230 would not only threaten the website, but the individual moderators for the site’s subreddits.
“It is our view that the debate on Section 230 too often focuses solely on very large, centrally moderated platforms—and individual grievances with them—to the exclusion of smaller, differently organized websites that take an alternative approach,” Reddit’s comment reads, adding: “However, the most important point that we offer, as we hope to make clear in this filing, is that with regard to Reddit and other community-moderated websites, Section 230 protects our individual users just as much as it does us. Their continued protection is crucial to the viability of community-based moderation online.”
Reddit argued that because moderaters of the subreddits remove content within them based on the rules of each community, changes to Section 230 would “undermine” that system and “place undue burdens on everyday users who make everyday decisions to curate their community.”
The website’s comment to the FCC also includes a testimonial from moderaters of the r/lgbt subreddit explaining how they prevent abusive content from showing up, moderate the community overall, and how Section 230 allows them to do so.
The mods from r/lgbt said changes to Section 230 would “profoundly affect our ability as moderators to keep our community safe for our marginalized users” and could put them at legal risk.
Ultimately, Reddit said changing Section 230 could have disastrous consequences.
“Imagine a universe where trolls could use Section 230 loopholes to sue based on the decisions of these individual moderators. That is the universe that the Petition is leading the internet towards,” the comment reads. “To allow this to happen would change the very trajectory of the internet. The health of the internet, and users’ right to create their own online spaces, hangs in the balance, and for these reasons, the Commission should not undertake a rulemaking proceeding based upon NTIA’s petition.”
You can read all of Reddit’s comment to the FCC here.
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