Hands Off My Post: Rethinking Section 230 and Private Online Platform Liability

2024Technology Law

Justin Sells

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the Israel-Hamas conflict, private online platforms, namely, social media websites such as Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly Twitter), have censored their respective users by removing, downgrading, or materially altering users’ posts. Before Murthy v. Missouri, the United States government encouraged and coerced private online platforms to censor users. Arguably, the joint efforts of the U.S. government and private online platforms to censor users have resulted in First Amendment violations, copyright infringement, and breach of contract. Private online platforms, however, are shielded from liability under 47 U.S. Code Section 230. This Article argues that Section 230 should be amended to establish private actor liability for private online platforms that—at the behest of the U.S. government—remove, downgrade, or materially alter user-generated content that does not violate any law or platform policy.

Read Full Text Here