Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act provides social media sites and some websites with immunity from liability. It is an agreement between the government and Facebook, Google, Twitter, and others that in exchange for not being held liable for the information on their sites, they will create a free and open platform.
Did Big Tech Become a Publisher Giving Up Rights Under Section 230?
When Twitter and Facebook banned the president’s accounts, they effectively removed themselves from the protection of Section 230. They let their bias against the right get in the way of the freedom that they enjoyed under Section 230. In closing the accounts, they wanted to become a publisher that can be held liable and still enjoy immunity.
Of course, they cannot have it both ways. Even if Twitter and Facebook had applied their company policies universally across the board, they could probably still enjoy immunity under Section 230.
Who Gets to Decide What a Threat Is?
Had the president made a specific threat on his social media feeds, then the Big Tech giants would probably still be safe, but he made no particular threats at all. Social media companies have no legal standing to determine what is a threat.
Eliminated a Free Market System
Big Tech, which had enjoyed the protection of Section 230 since 1996, created another massive problem for itself when they banned Parler unilaterally from their platforms. They, in effect, declared that they no longer wanted protection under this section of the law.
While they are free to do business with the companies they choose, these platforms cannot claim that they have created an open marketplace that should operate under special protection.
Likely, the issues that Big Tech has created with banning Parler and President Trump from their platforms have created problems that will be their undoing.