Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said on Friday that he wants to revoke Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — the legal shield that safeguards tech stalwarts, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube against being sued for what its users post. Biden, in what is now becoming routine for Democratic politicians, also criticized Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, calling him a “real problem.”
“Section 230 should be revoked, immediately should be revoked, number one. For Zuckerberg and other platforms,” Biden said in an interview with The New York Times editorial board.
Section 230 dates back to 1996 — the early internet era. Prior to its enactment, “there was an interpretation of the rules that, if you exercised any editorial control over content, you incurred more liability for it,” Jeff Kosseff, a law professor at the U.S. Naval Academy and author of “The Twenty-Six Words That Created the Internet,” told TheWrap last summer.
Legislators, according to Kosseff, adopted Section 230 to give sites the “breathing room” to moderate content, rather than shy away due to fears of being slapped with a lawsuit.
If Section 230 were stripped, as Biden hopes for, the result is simple. “It opens [Facebook] up to liability for information that’s published on their platform,” according to Matt Bilinsky, a tech and media-focused attorney in Los Angeles.
The Times followed up on Biden’s stance, calling Section 230 a “pretty foundational law” of the internet. Biden doubled down, alluding to its policy against fact-checking political ads.
“That’s right. Exactly right. And it should be revoked,” Biden said. “It should be revoked because [Facebook] is not merely an internet company. It is propagating falsehoods they know to be false, and we should be setting standards not unlike the Europeans are doing relative to privacy. You guys still have editors. I’m sitting with them. Not a joke. There is no editorial impact at all on Facebook. None. None whatsoever. It’s irresponsible. It’s totally irresponsible.”
Biden added he’s “never been a fan of Facebook” or Zuckerberg.
The former vice president may not be a fan of Facebook, but his campaign still utilizes it for ads. His Facebook page has spent about $957,000 on ads in the last three months, placing him in the top 15 overall for political advertisers on Facebook.
Biden is one of several Democrats to recently rip Facebook. On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted Facebook for its political ad policy and called the company “shameful.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren has also railed against Facebook during her campaign and has called for its breakup.