According to White House communications director Kate Bedingfield, the White House is considering whether social media platforms should be held legally liable for spreading false material under Section 230, a statute that protects corporations’ freedom to control the content, according to CNN.
The argument over Section 230 has gained fresh urgency in recent days, as the government has urged social media firms to be more aggressive in combatting disinformation. Websites that monitor user-generated material are granted legal protection under federal legislation, which is part of the Communications Decency Act.
“We’re reviewing that, and certainly they should be held accountable,” Bedingfield told MSNBC when asked about Section 230 and whether social media companies like Facebook should be liable and open to lawsuits for publishing false information that causes Americans harm.
President Joe Biden, Bedingfield said, also believes it is “the responsibility of the people creating the content.”
“It is a big and complicated ecosystem, and everybody bears responsibility to ensure that we are not providing people with bad information about a vaccine that will save their lives,” she said.
Both Biden and then-President Donald Trump have advocated for revoking Section 230, but for different reasons.
Biden has long raged against the rule, claiming that it protects social media firms from disinformation, while Trump claims that it restricts and suppresses conservative views. Meanwhile, proponents of the clause say that it safeguards free expression. Legal experts, politicians, and officials at the Federal Communications Commission have all labeled Trump’s attempts to utilize the executive branch to modify how Section 230 applies to tech corporations illegal.
Many of the same legal issues challenge the Biden administration now. However, only Congress has the authority to modify the legislation, and while US politicians are unified in their opposition to Big Tech, Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill disagree on how Section 230 should be amended.