Parents Join The Platform Battle, Section 230 Comes Under Bipartisan Fire

There are only two industries that have blanket immunity from any product liability in the United States. One is the gun industry. The other is social media.What that means, very simply, is that if you feel you’ve been harmed by a conventional publisher you can sue it, but if you have a beef with Facebook, or Youtube, or Reddit, or Twitter — you’re out of luck. They’ve got blanket immunity.It’s called Section 230, and there’s a growing alliance of strange bedfellows wanting to repeal it. Who are these allies? What do they want? And who is fighting against them? It’s a bizarre story that might be about to lead to a fundamental change in how platforms profit from harming their users.To make this easy, let me break it down into three parts. First, what is it, and why does it have such a crappy name? Then — the alliance of change advocates. And finally, who stands to lose if change happens?WTF is 230? It’s a lame-ass name for the law that created the internet. It didn’t start out lame, but it’s turned into protection for companies who’ve learned that amplifying hate, misinformation, racism, and misogyny is wildly profitable.So, let’s give it a more memorable name: “The Platform Profiteer Protection Act.”The PPPA (formerly known as Section 230) has an extraordinarily large community of opponents. Democrats, Republicans, business leaders, and families.The list is extraordinarily large and diverse, with some advocating for flat-out ‘repeal’ and others who want to re-write the bill entirely.While there’s been lots of coverage of various politicians jockeying for position — everyone from Joe Biden to Donald Trump has declared support to repeal/replace 230 (a comprehensive list can be found here), and there’s a growing community of advocates that have gotten less coverage: parents.Attorney Matt Bergman started the Social Media Victims Law Center and is now working with more than 1,200 families who are pursuing lawsuits against social media companies like Meta.“They have intentionally designed a product that is addictive. They understand that if children stay online, they make more money. It doesn’t matter how harmful the material is,” Bergman has asserted.Following the publication of The Facebook Papers and Frances Haugen’s congressional testimony, more than 170 plaintiffs have filed suit against the social media platforms, alleging they:- Are intentionally designed to create addictive behavior.- Fail to utilize adequate age verification.- Encourage minors to bypass parental controls.- And intentionally amplify damaging content.These lawsuits, which have been consolidated into a multi-district litigation (MDL №3047), include both personal injury claims and claims filed by school districts and municipalities on behalf of their youth.“We allege that Meta, TikTok, Snap, YouTube, and other social media companies have engaged in reckless and negligent misconduct that has caused a mental health crisis among our youth,” said James P. Frantz, on behalf of the plaintiff school districts.Plaintiffs got a surprising ally when U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy published the “Advisory on Social Media and Youth Mental Health.”“We are in the middle of a national youth mental health crisis, and I am concerned that social media is an important driver of that crisis — one that we must urgently address,” Murthy said.The MDL litigation is moving forward, as a growing community of parents, school districts, politicians and business leaders gear up to change the now almost 28-year-old law.But opponents of the change are powerful, if less visible to the public. Facebook/Meta is one of the largest spenders of lobbying dollars in Washington, spending $19.2 million on lobbying activities, larger than Alphabet’s $13.2 million, or Apple’s $9.4 million.“We have this incredibly toxic internet with really perverse incentives. If you are a platform, you make your money through all advertisers, so you make your money through advertising” said venture capitalist Bradley Tusk. “Sadly, the way human nature works, negative content, toxic content generates a lot more eyeballs and a lot more clicks than positive.”“Where I think things went off the rails is that the platforms chose — because the economics were better — to favor harmful content over good content” said Roger McNamee, VC and author of “Zucked.”“Basically hate speech, disinformation, and conspiracy theories are extraordinarily profitable because they trigger flight or fight. So people have to pay attention. And in a business where attention is everything, that kind of content is going to rise to the surface repeatedly.”So, what can change? Tusk said, “There’s no economic interest to not have negative content right now. They’re protected from any liability, so they have no reason to do anything other than what they’re doing right now, which is to allow groups on that teach young girls how to cut themselves or how to develop eating disorders.”Alexis Spence started using Instagram when she was 11. “As much as I would do my research on how to protect her, she was ten steps ahead of me on how to evade us,” said Alexis’s mother, Kathleen “We did everything that we should have done as parents, but we were fighting a computer algorithm. We were outnumbered, we were out-powered.”Today the Spences are joining the growing group of parents who are going to court to fight for change. You can find them here: socialmediavictims.orgSupporting data/SourcesCurrent Democrats, Republicans, and Public Figures calling for repeal/reform of Section 230.Democrats: Joe Biden, Barak Obama, Jan Schakowsky, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Sen. Brian Schatz , Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Mark Warner Sen Mazie Hirono, Sen. Tim Kaine, Dick Durbin, Dianne Feinstein , Sheldon Whitehouse, Bob Casey, Catherine Cortez Masto, Margaret Hassan, Mark Warner, Rep. Sylvia Garcia Sen. Brian Schatz, Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren, Erica AdamsRepublican: Donald Trump, Lance Gooden, Sen. Josh Hawley, Sen. Paul Gosar, Sen. Roger Wicker, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Sen. Ted Cruz , Rep. Santos, George, Sen. Rubio, Marco, Rep Chris Cox, Rep. Jim Jordan, Rep. Matt Gaetz, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Sen. Tom Cotton, Rep. Dan Crenshaw, Rep. Lauren Boebert, Rob Portman, Chuck Grassley, JohnCornyn, Josh Hawley, John Kennedy, Susan Collins, Joni Ernst, Cindy Hyde-Smith, Lisa Murkowski, Sen. Mike Braun, Rep. Ann Wagner, Rep. Gregory Steube, Bill Cassidy, Rand Paul,Ron Johnson, Kevin McCarthyPublic Figures: Sacha Baron Cohen, David Chavern, Eric Weinstein, Dave Rubin, Ben Shapiro, Glenn Beck, Matt Walsh, Attorney General William Barr, Frances Haugen, Roger McNamee, Bradley Tusk, John Perry Barlow, Jack Posobiec, Alex Jones, Tim Pool,Glenn Greenwald, Mark Meadows, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, Nikki Haley, Sean Hannity, Candace Owens, Dennis Prager, Laura Loomer

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