Technology

Schumer open to reforming tech liability protections amid rising hate speech on Twitter

Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)
Greg Nash
Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) answers a reporters’ question following the weekly policy luncheon on Tuesday, December 6, 2022.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters Tuesday that he is open to revising Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in response to rising hate speech on Twitter directed at Black and Jewish Americans. 

Section 230 grants social media platforms such as Twitter protection from legal liability for offensive, wrongful or damaging content posted on their sites. 

Schumer said he is open to revisiting that legal protection in the wake of new reports by the Center for Countering Digital Hate and the Anti-Defamation League that found hate speech on Twitter has grown significantly since entrepreneur Elon Musk bought the company for $44 billion.  

“I’ve always said that Section 230 is something that we should look at that. The difficulty there is coming up with the right solution, but it’s something I’d be open to looking at,” he told reporters after the Democratic caucus lunch.  

The Center for Countering Digital Hate found that daily use of the N-word on Twitter has tripled since Musk took control of the company. Slurs directed at gay men and transgender people have also gone up dramatically on Twitter under Musk’s leadership, the group found.  

The Anti-Defamation League found “both an increase in antisemitic content” on Twitter and “a decrease in the moderation of antisemitic posts.”  

The Network Contagion Research Institute, which monitors the spread of online hate, found a “prolific surge” in anti-Jewish content, according to The Times of Israel.  

The institute reported that “terms associated with Jew” are being tweeted more than 5,000 time per hour and most of the comments are “overtly antisemitic.”  

Some lawmakers think the findings may spur Democrats to work with Republicans to withdraw some legal liability protection from Twitter and other social media platforms that become forums for hate speech.  

“I think the place where we could start and should start would be Section 230. We should just repeal it,” said Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who questioned whether that idea would get much Democratic support.  

A group of House lawmakers introduced legislation last year that would remove legal immunity from any online platform that knowingly or recklessly uses an algorithm to recommend content based on personal information or if that recommendation causes physical or emotional injury.  

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Ca.) introduced the legislation.   

Schumer is the first Jewish Senate majority leader in American history and recently won reelection with 56.4 percent of the vote to a fifth Senate term.  

Tags Charles Schumer Communications Decency Act Elon Musk Josh Hawley Section 230 tech liability

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