UPDATED 11:25 AM PT — Wednesday, June 19, 2019
One GOP lawmaker is pushing to end what many are calling political bias by major tech companies. Missouri Senator Josh Hawley is reportedly proposing a bill which will make it mandatory for social media platforms to prove they are politically “neutral.”
If a company is unable to show this then it will lose its protections under the Communications Decency Act – Section 230. Without this act, social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook could be sued or penalized for content posted by its users. Hawley believes this legislation will hold companies accountable, and address the alleged conservative censorship on social media.
“How is it possible for Big Tech platforms to keep the digital public square pruned, if you like, and free of criminal activity or other vices without inserting their own content or political biases into the editorializing that they’re doing?” asked the Missouri lawmaker.
Critics, including members of the tech industry, are preparing to fight the bill. They are claiming the Communications Decency Act has empowered the internet, and taking it away would only enable government censorship of speech. However, Hawley claims there is a “growing list of evidence” which shows tech companies are making editorial decisions to censor viewpoints of individuals they disagree with.
The most recent example of this points to the networking site Pinterest. It was recently under fire for permanently suspending the account of a pro-life group, which it claimed was spreading misinformation.
If this bill takes affect, companies who lose their protections will be forced to restructure their business model and change the way people are allowed to post. This means they will most likely implement new algorithms, which will scan content for illegal or libelous material before its posted that way it doesn’t have a chance to spread.