Author: Yi Zu
On November 17th US time, Senator Josh Hawley, in his consecutive tweets, pointed out that several tech giants are suppressing free speech. The most breaking message of which was Zuckerberg’s admission that Facebook uses “tools” to track users across the web, platforms and accounts without users’ awareness.
In a subsequent tweet, he blasted Zuckerberg’s admission that Facebook and Twitter and Google are cooperating with the censorship. The social media giants have joined forces to control online speech, has had to lament that ” the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) has a cyberspace administration, and the US has one as well (Google, Twitter and Facebook).”
Ten years ago, Google won the respect of the world by withdrawing from the Chinese market because of its “do no evil” creed. However, circumstances changed over time; Google has now become a plaything under the capital of the CCP. Its subsidiary business YouTube limited Mr. Guo’s live-streaming function, shut down the War Room’s live-streaming channels, undermine Lutheran subscriptions and viewing data, act in collaboration with the CCP.
Since Mr. Guo’s established the whistleblower movement in 2017, Twitter’s shamelessness showed crystal clear worldwide. It quickly froze Mr. Guo’s Twitter account, followed by several large-scale blockings of the accounts of his revolutionary comrades. Also, Twitter and Facebook have been complicit in suppressing the truth of the CCP virus, becoming a weapon in the party’s unrestricted war against the United States.
Since social media has integrated into everyone’s lives and changes the course of humanity every day, it has a huge impact on the world, such as politically, economically and culturally. The three tech giants, Twitter, Facebook and Google, with hundreds of millions or even billions of users around the world, have an incomparable influence on every movements of humankind. These Internet giants, should have worked for the benefit of mankind, often confound black and white and ignore the facts. The underlying reason for the impunity so far is the amulet of article 230 of the Telecommunications Act.
With the rise of the Internet in the early 1990s, Article 230 was passed as part of the Telecommunications Act in 1996. It became the law, playing a crucial role in the rapid development of the Internet in the United States. Article 230 provides a haven for internet service providers and platforms to act only as intermediaries for content without having to assume responsibility for its content, provided that they take reasonable steps to remove or block access to the content, which is a coveted but unavailable right of traditional media. That’s why the big four US tech giants (Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft) have a combined market capitalization of $6.2 trillion by August 2020.
After the introduction of Article 230, the immunity of Internet service providers was challenged by several lawsuits, but in the end, these Internet companies were exempted from punishment. However, anything is like two sides of a coin, and as these Internet companies have grown into speech monopolies, Article 230 has become a tool for their own gain. Over the past few decades, these social media repressions of free and authentic voices have incredibly increased, the auditing powers granted under Article 230 have been abused, and biased censorship has seriously hurt First Amendment freedom of speech in the U.S. Constitution. Nowadays, these tech giants are even privately teaming up to censor online users across platforms and accounts, a serious departure from the original intent of the 230 regulations that were edged that year.
Therefore, how to break the shackles that bind people’s freedom of speech according to the development of the Internet, how to amend Article 230, has become first Internet priority in front of American people today. Some members of Congress with conscience and justice have been pushing for this judicial process.
In December 2018, Republican Louie Gohmert introduced the Biased Algorithm Deterrence Act, which requires Internet companies not to use filtering or any other type of algorithm to display users’ content without their consent.
In June 2019, Senator Hawley introduced the Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act. The Act calls for the removal of Section 230 protections for large companies with more than 30 million monthly active users in the United States and more than 300 million users worldwide, or more than $500 million in annual global revenue. Alternatively, they can get proof from a majority of FTC members that they do not oppose any political views and have never done so in the past two years.
On June 17, 2020, Senator Hawley proposed a new Senate bill that users have the right to take legal action against Internet providers with more than 30 million monthly active users in the United States and global revenues of more than $1.5 billion. If the user believes that the provider has not performed a uniform content review, they can sue for damages of up to $5,000 and the attorney’s fees in the lawsuit.
In June 2020, Senators Brian Schatz and John Thune introduced a bipartisan bill, Platform Accountability and Consumer Technology Act, which requires Internet platforms to issue public statements about how they regulate, benefit from, and remove user content. They are also required to release quarterly reports and related data to the public.
Lindsey Graham, Roger Wicker and Marsha Blackburn introduced the Online Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act in September 2020. The proposal calls for the removal of the liability protection provided for in Article 230 if an Internet platform is unable to explain how it can take measures to restrict users from posting content. The bill requires the platform to provide an objective and reasonable creed, or they will be held accountable for their actions.
As Mr. Guo warns Americans, the media is the CCP’s first weapon in its unrestricted war against the United States, and the abuse of Article 230 has become an amulet for the party to infiltrate and control U.S. This is the internal reason why tech giants such as Twitter, Facebook and Google have joined forces to censor online public discourse, and became the cyberspace administration of America. It is believed that through this U.S. election, the American public has seen the ugly face of these tech giants and social media moguls controlling free speech. Driven by public opinion, I believe Article 230 will be amended or even repealed in the near future!
(The acticle only represents author’s own view)