Posted by Gareth Icke Posted on 31 October 2020

Forget bias, the real danger is Big Tech’s overwhelming control over speech

Less than a week before the US presidential election, the CEOs of Google, Facebook and Twitter appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee to testify about Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — the 1996 law that limits platforms’ liability for content posted by users and gives them latitude to moderate content as they see fit. The question at hand was whether Section 230 should be reformed to hold these tech companies accountable for the content on their platforms and for their moderation practices.Republicans on the committee have accused the digital platforms of liberal bias and have called for limits on Section 230’s liability shield, which has granted Big Tech almost blanket immunity in the past. Democrats scoff at the notion of there being any anti-conservative slant on the platforms, pointing to data that shows right-wing content garnering much of the traffic on Facebook and to reports that Facebook has modified its newsfeed algorithm to the detriment of left-leaning news sites. Instead, Democrats fault the tech platforms for failing to adequately moderate content to stop the spread of disinformation, harmful content, extremism and voter manipulation.Both critiques miss the heart of the matter. First, the platforms’ business models — originally designed to manipulate and addict — are the very reason that disinformation goes viral in the first place. Second, whether the tech platforms are making fair, unbiased moderation decisions about what content reaches millions of people is the wrong question to ask. Instead, Congress and the American people should ask why we are allowing Big Tech that power in the first place. We must drastically deconcentrate control over speech so that any single company’s bias or business model cannot have a sizable impact on public discourse.

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