The Internet up until the 21st century consisted of mainly blogs, forums, and random information found via Yahoo and other search engines. Myspace had become the leader in social networking yet the landscape was open for others to fill the void for all age groups to connect.
In February 2004, in Cambridge, MA, an awkward Harvard college student, Mark Zuckerburg, launched The Facebook to connect students on multiple universities.
On March 21st, 2006 in San Francisco, CA, Twitter launched a micro-blog to connect those who wanted to see others’ limited posts, in order to generate community discussions.
With their technical knowledge, these two companies morphed into almost fixtures of the web attracting billions of users globally.
As anomalies in the fast-changing Internet landscape, the liabilities that Facebook and Twitter were liable for under current laws were enormous and quickly found protections through the US Congress.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act
47 U.S.C. § 230, a Provision of the Communication Decency Act
Tucked inside the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996 is one of the most valuable tools for protecting freedom of expression and innovation on the Internet: Section 230.
Section 230 says that “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider” (47 U.S.C. § 230). In other words, online intermediaries that host or republish speech are protected against a range of laws that might otherwise be used to hold them legally responsible for what others say and do.
In effect Free Speech was protected by preventing these social networking platforms was being liable for the speech posted on their platforms.
Fast forward to 2020, and things are changing rapidly again.
The friction is, the left in the USA wants to modify the Constitution to accommodate their worldview.
Our founders valued individual rights so they passed the 1st Amendment to the Constitution.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
This year, we just watched Facebook and Twitter suppress, delete, define, and hide information they deemed to not be appropriate on their platforms. Not a violation of the 1A, but definitely a violation of protections included in section 230. The US Senate has been preparing the groundwork to remove this protection as both companies are now acting as publishers.
What is scary for a majority of Americans, is that a Biden administration would not only keep 203 in place but would also attempt to do to the general public what FB & Twitter are doing online.
Now Twitter is ratcheting up their censorship and placing far-left activists in rolls to silence speech they deem “hateful” and/ or untrue.
Tech news site Protocol published a profile recently of Christine Su, the senior product manager for conversational safety at Twitter. Su’s approach to the platform’s censorship will focus on “transformative and procedural justice.”
Tech news site Protocol recently published an article titled “How a Young, Queer Asian-American Businesswoman is Rethinking User Safety at Twitter,” which profiles Christine Su, Twitter’s senior product manager for conversational safety. Su describes herself as an “activist-entrepreneur” who spent six-year running a startup called PastureMap that aimed to help ranchers plan climate-friendly grazing practices.
Protocol outlined Su’s aims at Twitter, writing:
A woman with an MBA and a master’s in land use and agriculture might seem like an odd choice, but she’s been interested in mission-driven tech work for years. It’s what drove her commitment to PastureMap and then her decision to join Twitter. “As a queer women of color who is an Asian American in tech in rural America, that experience is a very intersectional one. I’ve had plenty of experiences moving through spaces where I wanted more safety,” she said. After years of worrying for her sister’s safety (she’s a journalist covering sensitive topics in the Middle East and now China) as well as her own, Su knew she wanted to focus on building safety and inclusion for people who are the most vulnerable.
Transformative and procedural justice are the foundation of Su’s vision for a safer Twitter. The once radical concepts challenge the notion that we should just punish people who cause harm, instead offering an alternative: a pathway to repair the harm that has been done and to prevent its recurrence (transformative justice), and a set of fair rules that make harm rarer in the first place (procedural justice). Transformative justice has recently gained attention for its role in addressing sexual assault on college campuses, and a version of it has been adopted into the official legal system in New Zealand. Academics and activists have argued for years that the concepts could transform conflict resolution.
Su’s goals sit at the heart of what could become a very different Twitter one day, if — and it remains a very big conditional — the company is serious about the changes it’s been signaling over the last year. Women and people from marginalized groups have documented disproportionate levels of abuse and harassment on the platform for years, and, until recently, Twitter did little to change that. Its content rules stayed stagnant, and time and again, people reported incidences when abuse went ignored and harassment continued unabated. But Twitter has bowed to recent political pressure, expressing clear interest in stricter rules for what people are allowed to do and say.