2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke came out in support of eliminating existing protections for tech giants Friday, joining a growing chorus of political elites aiming to break up big tech.
The former Texas congressman, who restarted his presidential campaign once again this week, said he wants to get rid of protections guaranteed to social media companies under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which Congress passed in 1996 to ban “hateful activities” on social media platforms.
— Wendy N. Davis (@wendyndavis) August 16, 2019
Section 230 protects social media companies from being liable for what users post on their websites, making the tech giants only liable for what the companies themselves post on the platforms.
Some experts predict that without such protection, large platforms would be far more aggressive in their algorithms to block content.
Other prominent power players in Washington on both sides of the aisle have already called for removing Section 230’s protections.
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., proposed legislation in June titled the “Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act” that would strip large social media companies of the protection provided under the law unless the corporations consented to external audits of their algorithms to prove political neutrality.
While conservatives vow to fight big tech based on concerns over free speech, liberals have joined the effort based on concerns over violations of antitrust laws and abuse of users’ personal data.
Democrats on the presidential campaign trail have also endorsed similar measures aimed at breaking up big tech. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., pledged to appoint an attorney general who will make it their mission to break up tech giants.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, filed a $50 million lawsuit against Google in July for inappropriate election interference, alleging Google maliciously took down the presidential candidate’s advertising account. In the suit, Gabbard borrowed a line from conservatives and argued Google violated her free speech rights.