Have Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube made a mistake?

The "big three" of social media--Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube--have become the targets of increasing criticism around the way they choose to allow some users to post "acceptable" content while censoring other types of content. The companies' defense is to claim the protection of Section 230, a portion of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. The statute provides a shield for Web sites and other Internet-based media to not have to be responsible for policing the content submitted by their users.

In essence, Section 230 says that Internet-based media sites may not be held responsible (i.e. subject to law suits) for content posted on their sites. In 1996, no one envisioned the rise and eventual near-monopoly of a few tech giants like Facebook and Twitter. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube simultaneously claim the protection of Section 230 while managing what content is available on their platforms, using the rubric of "enforcing 'community standards.'"

At this time, it is not at all clear if the Federal government and the FCC will make any changes to Section 230, but in the meantime, the free market is bringing competitors. Social media sites like MeWe, Parler, Gab, GabTV, and Bitchute are gaining users rapidly as people migrate to platforms that have a stronger commitment to free speech. If the competitors are successful, no legislation may be needed to reduce the influence of the tech oligopoly.

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